Born to be Good
Author: Dacher Keltner
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
An optimistic assessment of humanity's biological predisposition for goodness draws on scientific findings, personal narrative, and eastern philosophy to explain how positive emotions are a key component of ethical action, the establishment of cooperative societies, and living a happy life. 40,000 first printing.
“A landmark book in the science of emotions and its implications for ethics and human universals.”—Library Journal, starred review In this startling study of human emotion, Dacher Keltner investigates an unanswered question of human evolution: If humans are hardwired to lead lives that are “nasty, brutish, and short,” why have we evolved with positive emotions like gratitude, amusement, awe, and compassion that promote ethical action and cooperative societies? Illustrated with more than fifty photographs of human emotions, Born to Be Good takes us on a journey through scientific discovery, personal narrative, and Eastern philosophy. Positive emotions, Keltner finds, lie at the core of human nature and shape our everyday behavior—and they just may be the key to understanding how we can live our lives better. Some images in this ebook are not displayed owing to permissions issues.
A new examination of the surprising origins of human goodness.
Leading scientists and science writers reflect on the life-changing, perspective-changing, new science of human goodness. In these pages you will hear from Steven Pinker, who asks, “Why is there peace?”; Robert Sapolsky, who examines violence among primates; Paul Ekman, who talks with the Dalai Lama about global compassion; Daniel Goleman, who proposes “constructive anger”; and many others. Led by renowned psychologist Dacher Keltner, the Greater Good Science Center, based at the University of California in Berkeley, has been at the forefront of the positive psychology movement, making discoveries about how and why people do good. Four times a year the center publishes its findings with essays on forgiveness, moral inspiration, and everyday ethics in Greater Good magazine. The best of these writings are collected here for the first time. A collection of personal stories and empirical research, The Compassionate Instinct will make you think not only about what it means to be happy and fulfilled but also about what it means to lead an ethical and compassionate life.
The Power Paradox
Author: Dacher Keltner
It is taken for granted that power corrupts. This is reinforced culturally by everything from Machiavelli to contemporary politics. But how do we get power? And how does it change our behavior? So often, in spite of our best intentions, we lose our hard-won power. Enduring power comes from empathy and giving. Above all, power is given to us by other people. This is what all-too-often we forget, and what Dr. Keltner sets straight. This is the crux of the power paradox: by fundamentally misunderstanding the behaviors that helped us to gain power in the first place we set ourselves up to fall from power. We can't retain power because we've never understood it correctly, until now. Power isn't the capacity to act in cruel and uncaring ways; it is the ability to do good for others, expressed in daily life, and itself a good a thing. Dr. Keltner lays out exactly--in twenty original "Power Principles"-- how to retain power, why power can be a demonstrably good thing, and the terrible consequences of letting those around us languish in powerlessness.
A Meaningful Life
Author: L.J. Davis
Publisher: New York Review of Books
L.J. Davis’s 1971 novel, A Meaningful Life, is a blistering black comedy about the American quest for redemption through real estate and a gritty picture of New York City in collapse. Just out of college, Lowell Lake, the Western-born hero of Davis’s novel, heads to New York, where he plans to make it big as a writer. Instead he finds a job as a technical editor, at which he toils away while passion leaks out of his marriage to a nice Jewish girl. Then Lowell discovers a beautiful crumbling mansion in a crime-ridden section of Brooklyn, and against all advice, not to mention his wife’s will, sinks his every penny into buying it. He quits his job, moves in, and spends day and night on demolition and construction. At last he has a mission: he will dig up the lost history of his house; he will restore it to its past grandeur. He will make good on everything that’s gone wrong with his life, and he will even murder to do it. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Author: George Vaillant
In our current era of holy terror, passionate faith has come to seem like a present danger. Writers such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have been happy to throw the baby out with the bathwater and declare that the danger is in religion itself. God, Hitchens writes, is not great. But man, according to George E. Vaillant, M.D., is great. In Spiritual Evolution, Dr. Vaillant lays out a brilliant defense not of organized religion but of man’s inherent spirituality. Our spirituality, he shows, resides in our uniquely human brain design and in our innate capacity for emotions like love, hope, joy, forgiveness, and compassion, which are selected for by evolution and located in a different part of the brain than dogmatic religious belief. Evolution has made us spiritual creatures over time, he argues, and we are destined to become even more so. Spiritual Evolution makes the scientific case for spirituality as a positive force in human evolution, and he predicts for our species an even more loving future. Vaillant traces this positive force in three different kinds of “evolution”: the natural selection of genes over millennia, of course, but also the cultural evolution within recorded history of ideas about the value of human life, and the development of spirituality within the lifetime of each individual. For thirty-five years, Dr. Vaillant directed Harvard’s famous longitudinal study of adult development, which has followed hundreds of men over seven decades of life. The study has yielded important insights into human spirituality, and Dr. Vaillant has drawn on these and on a range of psychological research, behavioral studies, and neuroscience, and on history, anecdote, and quotation to produce a book that is at once a work of scientific argument and a lyrical meditation on what it means to be human. Spiritual Evolution is a life’s work, and it will restore our belief in faith as an essential human striving.
Author: Justin L. Barrett
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Infants have a lot to make sense of in the world: Why does the sun shine and night fall; why do some objects move in response to words, while others won’t budge; who is it that looks over them and cares for them? How the developing brain grapples with these and other questions leads children, across cultures, to naturally develop a belief in a divine power of remarkably consistent traits––a god that is a powerful creator, knowing, immortal, and good—explains noted developmental psychologist and anthropologist Justin L. Barrett in this enlightening and provocative book. In short, we are all born believers. Belief begins in the brain. Under the sway of powerful internal and external influences, children understand their environments by imagining at least one creative and intelligent agent, a grand creator and controller that brings order and purpose to the world. Further, these beliefs in unseen super beings help organize children’s intuitions about morality and surprising life events, making life meaningful. Summarizing scientific experiments conducted with children across the globe, Professor Barrett illustrates the ways human beings have come to develop complex belief systems about God’s omniscience, the afterlife, and the immortality of deities. He shows how the science of childhood religiosity reveals, across humanity, a “natural religion,” the organization of those beliefs that humans gravitate to organically, and how it underlies all of the world’s major religions, uniting them under one common source. For believers and nonbelievers alike, Barrett offers a compelling argument for the human instinct for religion, as he guides all parents in how to effectively encourage children in developing a healthy constellation of beliefs about the world around them.
Key concepts in neuroscience presented for the non-medical reader. A fresh take on contemporary brain science, this book presents neuroscience—the scientific study of brain, mind, and behavior—in easy-to-understand ways with a focus on concepts of interest to all science readers. Rigorous and detailed enough to use as a textbook in a university or community college class, it is at the same time meant for any and all readers, clinicians and non-clinicians alike, interested in learning about the foundations of contemporary brain science. From molecules and cells to mind and consciousness, the known and the mysterious are presented in the context of the history of modern biology and with an eye toward better appreciating the beauty and growing public presence of brain science.
Author: Barbara Oakley
Publisher: OUP USA
Pathological Altruism is a groundbreaking new book - the first to explore the negative aspects of altruism and empathy, seemingly uniformly positive traits. In fact, pathological altruism, in the form of an unhealthy focus on others to the detriment of one's own needs, may underpin some personality disorders. Hyperempathy - an excess of concern for what others think and how they feel - helps explain popular but poorly defined concepts such as codependency. The contributing authors of this book provide a scientific, social, and cultural foundation for the subject of pathological altruism, creating a new field of inquiry. Each author's approach points to one disturbing truth: what we value so much, the altruistic "good" side of human nature, can also have a dark side that we ignore at our peril.
Born a Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Michiko Kakutani, New York Times • Newsday • Esquire • NPR • Booklist Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life. The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love. Praise for Born a Crime “[A] compelling new memoir . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah’s] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times “[An] unforgettable memoir.”—Parade “What makes Born a Crime such a soul-nourishing pleasure, even with all its darker edges and perilous turns, is reading Noah recount in brisk, warmly conversational prose how he learned to negotiate his way through the bullying and ostracism. . . . What also helped was having a mother like Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. . . . Consider Born a Crime another such gift to her—and an enormous gift to the rest of us.”—USA Today “[Noah] thrives with the help of his astonishingly fearless mother. . . . Their fierce bond makes this story soar.”—People “[Noah’s] electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories . . . and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender, and class.”—Booklist (starred review) “A gritty memoir . . . studded with insight and provocative social criticism . . . with flashes of brilliant storytelling and acute observations.”—Kirkus Reviews
Author: Christine Carter, Ph.D.
Publisher: Ballantine Books
What do we wish most for our children? Next to being healthy, we want them to be happy, of course! Fortunately, a wide array of scientific studies show that happiness is a learned behavior, a muscle we can help our children build and maintain. Drawing on what psychology, sociology, and neuroscience have proven about confidence, gratefulness, and optimism, and using her own chaotic and often hilarious real-world adventures as a mom to demonstrate do’s and don’ts in action, Christine Carter, Ph.D, executive director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, boils the process down to 10 simple happiness-inducing steps. With great wit, wisdom, and compassion, Carter covers the day-to-day pressure points of parenting—how best to discipline, get kids to school and activities on time, and get dinner on the table—as well as the more elusive issues of helping children build healthy friendships and develop emotional intelligence. In these 10 key steps, she helps you interact confidently and consistently with your kids to foster the skills, habits, and mindsets that will set the stage for positive emotions now and into their adolescence and beyond. Inside you will discover • the best way avoid raising a brat—changing bad habits into good ones • tips on how to change your kids’ attitude into gratitude • the trap of trying to be perfect—and how to stay clear of its pitfalls • the right way to praise kids—and why too much of the wrong kind can be just as bad as not enough • the spirit of kindness—how to raise kind, compassionate, and loving children • strategies for inspiring kids to do boring (but necessary) tasks—and become more self-motivated in the process Complete with a series of “try this” tips, secrets, and strategies, Raising Happiness is a one-of-a-kind resource that will help you instill joy in your kids—and, in the process, become more joyful yourself. From the Hardcover edition.
Author: Dacher Keltner, Keith Oatley, Jennifer M. Jenkins
Keith Oatley's 3rd edition of Understanding Emotions emphasizes the value of emotions and explores the latest research with practical concerns for clinical problems, education and everyday understanding. The text extends across a broad range of disciplines and covers the entire lifespan from infancy to adulthood. It includes sections on the study of emotion, the different elements of emotion, evidence of how emotions govern and organize social life, and emotion and individual functioning, including psychological disorders and well being. Furthermore, the text offers combined chapters on evolutionary and cultural approaches, studies of new expressions (love, desire) as well as new systems of communication (touch, music), findings on emotion and the central nervous systems, and studies on the role of emotion in moral judgment. Discussions of how popular and classical movies emphasize emotions show how to keep an emotion diary to track one’s emotions and interactions. The book Includes boxes on emotional intelligence and how to improve it as well as scales of assessing the self. Boxes on emotions in art and literature and positive psychology boxes are also new editions to this issue.
A Significant Life
Author: Todd May
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
What makes for a good life, or a beautiful one, or, perhaps most important, a meaningful one? Throughout history most of us have looked to our faith, our relationships, or our deeds for the answer. But in A Significant Life, philosopher Todd May offers an exhilarating new way of thinking about these questions, one deeply attuned to life as it actually is: a work in progress, a journey—and often a narrative. Offering moving accounts of his own life and memories alongside rich engagements with philosophers from Aristotle to Heidegger, he shows us where to find the significance of our lives: in the way we live them. May starts by looking at the fundamental fact that life unfolds over time, and as it does so, it begins to develop certain qualities, certain themes. Our lives can be marked by intensity, curiosity, perseverance, or many other qualities that become guiding narrative values. These values lend meanings to our lives that are distinct from—but also interact with—the universal values we are taught to cultivate, such as goodness or happiness. Offering a fascinating examination of a broad range of figures—from music icon Jimi Hendrix to civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, from cyclist Lance Armstrong to The Portrait of a Lady’s Ralph Touchett to Claus von Stauffenberg, a German officer who tried to assassinate Hitler—May shows that narrative values offer a rich variety of criteria by which to assess a life, specific to each of us and yet widely available. They offer us a way of reading ourselves, who we are, and who we might like to be. Clearly and eloquently written, A Significant Life is a recognition and a comfort, a celebration of the deeply human narrative impulse by which we make—even if we don’t realize it—meaning for ourselves. It offers a refreshing way to think of an age-old question, of quite simply, what makes a life worth living.
The happiness literature is about how to be happier. This book summarizes all of that advice, but adds an important caveat: Roughly one person in nine is born happy, and the other eight must find alternatives to happiness. The good news is that the alternatives to happiness are as satisfying or more than happiness itself. These five alternative modes of positive being are flow, fit, progress towards goals, altruism, and community. The theory is accompanied by practical suggestions about achieving these five modes.