I like measurement. I like to watch how effort “gets” something. And I am always working to show clients how influence can be tracked, measured and evaluated.
Now, I am not a Buddhist, but through social media, I am exposed almost weekly to the inspirational words of the Dalai Lama. And he is certainly “getting” more exposure through the communications venues the 21st century affords. His earlier incarnations could only have dreamed of his present-day positive reach . . . or maybe they knew it would be like this (a topic for another blog perhaps!).
At any rate, published online in The Atlantic this week is a great article by Kathy Gilsinan about how – more than 20 years ago – the Dalai Lama challenged a neuroscientist to test not the negativity of the human brain (as the doctor had always done previously), but rather seek to measure the good in our brains and how and why that goodness actually influences our happiness. And how we can direct that.
Earlier, Dr. Richard Davidson had spent most of his career trying to discover why people reacted differently to life’s challenges. Why are some more resilient to failure than others? The Dalai Lama instead asked him to use modern neuroscience to study kindness and compassion. And so he did just that, observing the monks.
This is more than just falling back on the old “glass half-full” mentality. This is showing a real scientific propensity for certain brains to react a certain way. And how purposeful compassion can alter the brain to promote better health and better behavior. It’s fascinating to think that identical experiences and messaging can speak to two different people (and their brains) completely differently. And that we can take responsibility for our brains by consciously choosing a positive reaction/feeling over a negative one.
The bottom line on Davidson’s research is this: Generosity is the best way to “activate the positive-emotion circuits” in your brain. So it’s not ALL about what you get. Rather, it is about what you give. I like that too.