On Being Selfishly “Selfless”

10% Happier Dan HarrisEvery once in a while, I come across something that smacks me upside my head with a great big "Ah, ha!  I KNEW it."  Something so obvious, but I'd never heard it put that way before that it just leaves this lasting impression. Today, as I was finishing Dan Harris' book "10% Happier," I had just such a moment.

In the chapter entitled (I'm writing it as it reads folks) "The Self-Interested Case for Not Being a Dick," Harris recounts a story where he is interviewing the Dalai Lama. They are exploring the idea of self-cherishing and the link between that and the "development of concern for [the] well-being of others."  Harris himself has a huge lightbulb moment based on the revelations of the Dalai Lama and comes to the conclusion that "...there is a self-interested, or selfish, case for being compassionate?"  His Holiness responds, "Yes. Practice of compassion is ultimately benefit to you. So I usually describe: we are selfish, but be wise selfish rather than foolish selfish."

In the decade-plus timeframe that I've been coaching children, parents and professionals on the value of SocialSmarts, this is exactly a point I've been trying to make: (more…)

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Evaluating the “content of our character”

Martin Luther King speech dream content of characterMany of us know the epic words of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I have a dream..." speech.  It's probably the most famous of the many he made on the topic of civil rights and equality, and it's the one most frequently shown on media clips.  Most people know the "I have a dream..." part of the speech, but how many really know what comes after the popular soundbyte?  I think, today, on the day we remember him, it's appropriate that we stop and consider the message he shared.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Hopefully, we have made progress in judging based on color of skin -- although one could certainly argue that we are often as polarized by race today as we were nearly 50 years ago (but that's a topic best left for another day).

But, let's analyze the second part. If we are to be judged by the "content of [our] character," what does that mean for us today?  I think it's interesting to consider what Dr. King would see, were he alive today. What has happened to our individual -- not to mention, collective -- character? (more…)

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“If it were me, how would I like to be treated?”

All this, because we care...

Have you seen this little guy before?  My kids discovered him in a local park the other day.  Apparently a little girl left him behind. At first, when my daughter reported a "found tiger" and asked what to do, I suggested they best leave him where they found him. After all, a small child is going to notice a beloved  stuffie is missing rather quickly.

Then came the first worry -- they had put him prominently on the park sign, where he would be easily seen. But, with clouds building in the sky, they were concerned what would happen if it rained. So, we got a clear plastic bag -- one through which the little tiger would be easily seen -- and a baggie tie and covered him with his new protective "raincoat."  We were sure he'd be reunited with his owner by morning. (more…)

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