The neuroscience behind kindness. Just do the right thing, speak up and be kind, a ground-breaking message that doing the right thing counts no matter the cost. Do we have what it takes?
In our early childhood years, our minds and brains seem to record everything, giving us an amazing ability to learn, imitate and match the behavior patterns of those around us. We learn from them how to show empathy and understanding and these experiences form the basis of our neural DNA learning center.
As we grow, our brains build on this foundation, and neurotransmitters communicate information throughout our minds and body that distinguishes between who we love and do not love, forms our prejudices and biases, and ultimately our relationships with health, people and a culture for success!
Huffington Post reports two neuroscientific studies suggest that we are continuously reminded to act more like a saint than a scoundrel by our brains. There are neural pathway connections between generous behaviors and mind activities. Not surprisingly, we are primarily steered toward generosity than selfishness.
“It’s almost like these areas of the brain behave according to a neural Golden Rule,” study co-author Leonardo Christov-Moore, a neuroscientist at the University of California in Los Angeles, said in a statement.
From a human standpoint we devote far too much time and energy pursuing the hierarchy of status; the desire for place, posture, and perceived power within our given tribe. This has a disabling effect of the saint neural network pathway. These desires percolate shutting down some behaviors attributed to the Golden Rule in favor of scoundrel behaviors.
Dr. Marco Iacoboni, a co-author of both studies and a professor of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, postulates that someday there will be treatments that affect neural pathways to greater or lesser degrees of empathy and altruism.
Changing up ourselves! We have the choice to create different versions of ourselves. We can proactively divert and channel toward cooperation, starting anew, with each second.
Keeping integrity and the right thing in check, even in the smallest ways, really matters. Neural pathways are rebuilt and strengthened as we are kind and sometimes it is as simple as just showing up. The little things we do make a difference.
“The cornerstone of social cognition is empathy. So, in principle, by increasing empathy one could increase social cognition in people. You could modulate control areas for social behavior. That would be a big deal,” Iacoboni said.
The idea of “Six degrees of separation” or the “Human Web” is that everyone on Earth is on average about six steps away from any other person. So that a chain of, “a friend of a friend” is created. This is the gift. These connections enliven us, give us pause, and cause us to think. Although we are almost aside one another by a few degrees of separation, connect and build bridges.
To put it in perspective, really, we just do it for ourselves.