In this episode of Bulletproof Radio, my guest is Jamil Zaki, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Stanford University and the director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab. Our conversation explores kindness, empathy, and compassion. You’ll find out the surprising ways people carry these traits into their personal lives and their broader social groups and communitites.
In a stack rank, kindness wins: “So kindness is, obviously, I think the most important for us as a collective,” Jamil says. “We need to cooperate, we need to work together, and that’s whether you’re in a family or a company or a culture.”
Jamil has presented and written extensively about kindness and empathy, with featured articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, and the Atlantic and many more publications and media outlets. He’s the author of the book: “The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World.” (It’s available in hardcover now or you can preorder the paperback, set to release, June 2, 2020.)
Using tools from psychology and neuroscience, he gives us a totally new understanding empathy by examining how empathy works and how people can learn to empathize more effectively.
Empathy has been thought of as a hardwired trait—as in you either have it or you don’t. But Jamil says it’s a learnable skill that can be taught, strengthened and adapted to the modern world. And we need that more than ever in the current calamity of Covid-19. “That sense of common humanity and common vulnerability can really actually ignite massive amounts of empathy,” he says.
Listen on to learn how to bring more empathy and kindness into your life now and how to shape it for the future.
Enjoy the show!
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- About Jamil Zaki: https://profiles.stanford.edu/jamil-zaki
- Book: The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/550616/the-war-for-kindness-by-jamil-zaki/
- If I was studying psychopaths, I’d still be studying kindness because I’d be studying its absence. – 1:24
- The Four ‘F’s. – 4:55
- You don’t have to be faster than the tiger, you just have to be faster than your friend. – 8:23
- If we enjoy kindness, does that make it selfish? – 10:57
- Built-in Confusions. – 12:41
- I’m very worried about a second epidemic of loneliness, – 16:31
- How do you as a researcher, define kindness versus empathy versus compassion? – 20:31
- The mirror neuron system. – 26:51
- The realization that we have a common enemy is I think more powerful than one might think. – 31:40
- The anterior insula was one of the key regions that they looked at. – 34:43
- A linebacker who empathizes with the running back will be really bad at doing their job – 36:17
- What is Contact Theory? What does that have to do with hatred? – 39:44
- So what is a Kind system? – 49:32
- Jamil sees two futures. – 1:03:45
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