Our bodies are chronically in "threat mode"—but being kind recalibrates our nervous system

Being kind to others positively impacts your physical and mental health, according to this groundbreaking research by Stanford professor Dr. James Doty.

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  • The default "rest mode" of our brains is often taken over by a "threat mode" setting because of our stressful, "on-the-go" lifestyles. When we are chronically in threat mode, this leaves us with less capacity for compassion.
  • Showing compassion or acting kind to others can actually change your physiology, taking you out of threat mode and putting you back into your natural "rest and digest" mode.
  • Research by a well-known Stanford professor Dr. James Doty has shown that acts of kindness or compassion that put us back into our "rest mode" can have lasting positive impacts on our physical and mental health.
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William Shatner: Empathy must be taught

What a group of orphaned elephants can teach us about emotion and learned social skills.

  • Empathy is defined as the act of recognizing, understanding, and being sensitive to the feelings and experiences of others.
  • Sharing a story about young elephants at a nature preserve, William Shatner argues that empathy is a learned skill, not an inherited trait.
  • "That has to be learned, and I don't think it's any different from a boy to a girl. You have to walk in the shoes to experience what the other person is experiencing."
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Yann Martel: ‘Transgression is central to art’

Is it acceptable to write a story from the perspective of someone who is completely unlike you?

  • Man Booker Prize-winning writer Yann Martel, a Canadian man, has written from the perspectives of a man with AIDS, a body-switching woman, an Indian boy, and 20th-century Portuguese widowers.
  • Is it acceptable to write from the perspective of someone who is completely unlike you? Martel believes these transgressions put empathetic imagination into practice, allowing your mind to go where your body cannot.
  • In Martel's case, it's the recipe for great art—books that have been loved and read by millions. "[W]e are who we are in relation to others," says Martel. "But the key thing is the empathetic imagination, and the empathetic imagination is the great traveler. And travelers necessarily cross borders. And not only do they have to but it's a thrill to do so. It's a thrill encountering the other."
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Nudging meat off the menu

How do you convince people to break the habit of a lifetime?

To keep global heating below 2°C, the world's appetite for meat must change.

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Any attempt to propose a detailed alternative to the capitalist economic system in a short article could be seen as somewhat presumptuous.

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