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Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:37 AM


X-posted from GD, a Stanford Study. (nt)


Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education

“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.”
― Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

The website (http://www.stanford.edu/group/ccare/cgi-bin/wordpress/) has lot of material, the following blogging gives good general idea of the importance of this research and some links studies.

Why, in a country that consumes 25% of the world’s resources (the U.S.), is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety? Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished? While some politicians might answer, “It’s the economy, stupid,” Based on scientific evidence, a better answer is, “It’s the lack compassion, stupid.”

I recently attended the Templeton Prize ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and have been reflecting on the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conversation with Arianna Huffington: “If we say, oh, the practice of compassion is something holy, nobody will listen. If we say, warm-heartedness really reduces your blood pressure, your anxiety, your stress and improves your health, then people pay attention.” As director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University (one of the two organizations recognized in the Templeton Prize press release), I would agree with the Dalai Lama.

What exactly is compassion? Compassion is the recognition of another’s suffering and a desire to alleviate that suffering. Often brushed off as a hippy dippy religious term irrelevant in modern society, rigorous empirical data supports the view of all major world religions: compassion is good.

Our poverty in the West is not that of the wallet but rather that of social connectedness. In this modern world where oftentimes both parents work, we are spending less time as a family. People are living farther away from extended familiesand perhaps more disconnected than ever before as suggested by Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone. Putman observes that we thrive under conditions of social connection but that trust and levels of community engagement are on the decline. Loneliness is on the rise and is one of the leading reasons people seek counseling.


Links from the blogging:

Social Isolation in America, 25% of Americans have no one that they feel close enough with to share a problem.

Loneliness leads to a less healthy immune stress profile at the level of the gene

Lack of social connectedness predicts vulnerability to disease and death above and beyond traditional risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, obesity and lack of physical activity.

Regular compassion meditation practice reduces negative neuroendocrine, inflammatory and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress.

I strongly feel that integrating this empirical knowledge and wisdom to our education programs and practices is our best hope. We need to move on from desensitizing and dehumanizing dissecting of frogs to teaching and learning compassion and altruism on scientific basis.


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Reply X-posted from GD, a Stanford Study. (nt) (Original post)
NYC_SKP Jan 2013 OP
LWolf Jan 2013 #1

Response to NYC_SKP (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 08:12 AM

1. I see the value of social interconnectedness.

Some loners are loners, not by choice, but by circumstance, and are thus lonely.

Some of us, though, are "loners" because we actually LIKE being alone.

For those of us who get peace and contentment from solitude, whose stress level rises in groups, who come home exhausted by time interacting in groups; those of us who need solitude to recharge; we are healthier when we get the aloneness that we need.

Being a loner does not mean a lack of compassion or altruism. It can mean a lack of trust; that lack of trust, though, has usually been taught by non-loners.

In a culture that targets those outside the conventional norm to bully, that celebrates that bullying, lack of trust is a given.

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