Train Your Brain to Be More Sympathetic
By meditating on having compassion for someone in your life, a new study suggests that you can become a more sympathetic person in as little as two weeks.
By meditating on having compassion for someone in your life, a new study suggests that you can become a more sympathetic person in as little as two weeks. Conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, the study gave participants seven hours of practice during 30-minute sessions that spanned two weeks.
"Participants were told to observe the thoughts and feelings that arise as they imagine a time that each person has suffered. The goal is to give participants practice at tolerating their reactions, rather than avoiding them or getting too wrapped up in them."
The study then measured whether specific feelings of sympathy spilled over into broader areas, allowing us to have sympathy for people we don't know personally. Researchers performed tests in which participants were given the option of helping an anonymous stranger, finding that personal sympathy and impersonal sympathy activated similar parts of the brain.
When it comes to general feelings of sympathy, however, as Dan Ariely explains in his Big Think interview, it is much easier for us to have sympathy for a specific person than a whole group of people. For this reason, individual cases of hardship often receive more media attention than nation-wide problems.
Read more at Fast Company
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.
- Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
- The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
- Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.
- In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
- This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
- Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.