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Can mental training in compassion lead to altruistic behavior and better health?

The first time I ever tried a loving-kindness meditation, I was overcome by a feeling of complete… futility. Mentally extending compassion to others and wishing them free from suffering seemed nice enough, but I had a hard time believing that my idle thoughts could increase kindness in the real world.

Turns out I was wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Playing the Blame Game: Video Games Pros and Cons

Playing the Blame Game
— Video games stand accused of causing obesity, violence, and lousy grades. But new research paints a surprisingly complicated and positive picture, reports Greater Good Magazine‘s Jeremy Adam Smith.

Cheryl Olson had seen her teenage son play video games. But like many parents, she didn’t know much about them.

Then in 2004 the U.S. Department of Justice asked Olson and her husband, Lawrence Kutner, to run a federally funded study of how video games affect adolescents.

Olson and Kutner are the co-founders and directors of the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Mental Health and Media. Olson, a public health researcher, had studied the effects of media on behavior but had never examined video games, either in her research or in her personal life.

And so the first thing she did was watch over the shoulder of her son, Michael, as he played his video games. Then, two years into her research—which combined surveys and focus groups of junior high school students—Michael urged her to pick up a joystick. “I definitely felt they should be familiar with the games if they were doing the research,” says Michael, who was 16 at the time and is now 18.

Olson started with the PC game Read the rest of this entry »

When Empathy moves us to Action-By Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman requires no introduction. Personally, of all his books I have read, the one I found most stimulating was Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue With the Dalai Lama, a superb overview of what emotions are and how we can put them to good use. He is now conducting a great series of audio interviews including one with George Lucas on Educating Hearts and Minds: Rethinking Education.

We are honored to bring you a guest post by Daniel Goleman, thanks to our collaboration with Greater Good Magazine, a UC-Berkeley-based quarterly magazine that highlights ground breaking scientific research into the roots of compassion and altruism. Enjoy!

– Alvaro

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Hot To Help: When can empathy move us to action?

By Daniel Goleman

We often emphasize the importance of keeping cool in a crisis. But sometimes coolness can give way to detachment and apathy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Peace Among Primates (Part 3)

A few days ago we published the first and second installments of this Peace Among Primates series, by neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky. Today we publish the third and final one.

Peace Among Primates (Part 3)

Anyone who says peace is not part of human nature knows too little about primates, including ourselves.

–By Robert M. Sapolsky

Natural born killers?

Read the rest of this entry »

Peace Among Primates (Part 2)

(Editor’s Note: A few days ago we published the first installment of this Peace Among Primates series, by neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky. Today we publish the second installment. Next Saturday, April 19th, you can come back and read the third and final part in the series.)

Peace Among Primates (Part 2)

Anyone who says peace is not part of human nature knows too little about primates, including ourselves.

–By Robert M. Sapolsky

Left behind

In the early 1980s, “Forest Troop,” a group of savanna baboons I had been studying—virtually living with—for years, was going about its business in a national park in Kenya when a neighboring baboon group had a stroke of luck: Read the rest of this entry »

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