Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Better World, A Better Us

Dr. James R. Doty has a great article in New Scientist, picking up on the themes of A Meaningful Life:

The Selfish Benefits of Compassion (aka How Neuroscience Can Make Us Kinder)


We know that as a species we flourish and thrive when we care for others. Not only do you feel happier, but you live better, you feel better, you live longer. And it's a self-supporting activity in the sense that when you do those activities and they make you feel good, it makes you want to continue. It's a boon to humanity, but also to one's self.

If we can show that you have the potential to increase your capacity for kindness and caring, and that this should result in dramatic improvements in your personal relationships, significant decrease in inflammation, improvement in cardiac function, increase in your telomere length (the DNA that protects the ends of your chromosomes), which increases longevity... If we can show you this proposition, then I think it is different to that.

I think that we're really seeing a sea change in how people perceive their place in the world. The millennium generation is the first to grow up with 24/7 access to global information. When you see the suffering of others, you realise that those individuals could just as easily have been you. It's much easier to say, "I can't let that happen – I feel their pain." That is how humanity is going to survive.