A space where Austinites and others can share their views and experiences of compassion and exchange ideas on how we can manifest compassion and encourage our neighbors to do the same
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Friday, January 2, 2015
The Good Samaritan
Hard to find in Asia
Throughout SE Asia bit particularly in China, if you get hit by a bus or are otherwise injured in public, it might be a while before a bystander will come to your aid. In fact, the Chinese government had to pass the “Good Samaritan Law” to encourage bystanders to help a fellow citizen when she is injured.
The idea that fellow citizens are someone with whom you compete for survival, rather than someone on whom you count for support, might not be too far below the surface. Social scientists have long found that people tend to be less altruistic, and exhibit more anti-social behavior, when basic resources are scarce or when they see survival as more competitive.
Attempting to teach compassion in China might be difficult but in the North America and Europe not too hard. How can we start? Obviously with ourselves. Teaching by example is almost always more effective than books or lectures. First we should look
You don’t have to wait for someone to get hit by a bus! There are plenty of opportunities in our everyday lives that provide a chance to practic compassion
Here are a few examples:
Tell someone- washroom attendant, garbage collector, teacher, policeman how much you appreciate the work they do
Tell a friend that you appreciate her friendship
Give a little extra to the homeless person asking for help
Take the garbage out or wash some dishes even when it’s not your job.
There are plenty of opportunities. You just need to look for them
In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience on October 9, 2013, Max Planck researchers identified that the tendency to be egocentric is innate for human beings – but that a part of your brain recognizes a lack of empathy and autocorrects. This specific part of your brain is called the the right supramarginal gyrus. When this brain region doesn't function properly—or when we have to make particularly quick decisions—the researchers found one’s ability for empathy is dramatically reduced. This area of the brain helps us to distinguish our own emotional state from that of other people and is responsible for empathy and compassion.
Evidently, you need only 20 seconds to know whether a stranger is trustworthy, kind or compassionate, traits grounded in our genes, according to research published recently.
The study authors concluded that a single genetic change can make a person seem more compassionate or kind to others. The findings aim to reinforce that healthy humans are conditioned to recognize strangers who may help them out in a tough situation. They also make way for genetic therapies for people who are not naturally sympathetic.
It's remarkable that complete strangers could pick up on who's trustworthy, kind or compassionate in 20 seconds when all they saw was a person sitting in a chair listening to someone talk, said Aleksandr Kogan, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral student at the University of Toronto at Mississauga.
The study, published in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, builds up on a previous research on the human genetic predisposition to empathy.