Alan Alda: Build empathy. Monitor your relationships.

Learn the art and science of building relationships at Big Think Edge.

  • Learn simple exercises that are scientifically proven to boost your empathy.
  • At Big Think Edge, Alan Alda shares his insights on empathy and effective communication.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge to become a better you - personally and professionally.

Empathy is a superpower for connecting and communicating with others, but it can be surprisingly fragile. Even a bad mood or preoccupied mind can easily close us off to the people – even the ones we're closest to, let alone to colleagues or strangers on the daily commute.

Noticing this, Alan Alda wondered what exercises could help bulk up his "empathy muscle" regardless of shifting circumstances. An exercise he invented became the focus of a psychological study that discovered a way to significantly increase empathy.

Alan Alda teaches "The Art and Science of Relating: Build and Monitor Empathy" for Big Think Edge.

Subscribe now.

Empathy makes you a better human

Empathy tends to evaporate when we don't practice it. At Big Think Edge, Alan Alda teaches an immediately actionable video lesson that will teach you exercises to significantly grow your capacity for empathy.

Greater empathy is an asset whether you're looking to boost your career, inspire and connect with a team you manage, or have more peaceful and thoughtful relationships in your personal life.

Subscribe to Big Think Edge and you'll access a diverse collection of lessons taught by the world's top thinkers and doers, like Alan Alda, Malcolm Gladwell, Bryan Cranston, Linda Hill, John Cleese and Navy SEAL Rob Roy.

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
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I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.

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The results of this one-of-a-kind study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men.
Image by Lightspring on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
  • The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
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