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Join the International Conference on: How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?

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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Emma Malcolm Seppala

Emma Seppala & Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

Emma Seppala originates from Paris, France and is Associate Director at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. She is an Honorary Fellow at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds in Madison, Wisconsin.

Her research areas include: Complementary & Alternative Interventions (yoga, meditation); The Science of Happiness, Health, Well-Being; Stress; Trauma; Emotion and Emotion Regulation; Compassion, Social Connectedness; Cross-Cultural Psychology.

Sub Conference: Science


Emma Seppala & Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion


(Video Transcriptions: If you would like to take empathic action and create a transcription of this video, check the volunteers page.  The transcriptions will make it easier for other viewers to quickly see the content of this video.)



November 5, 2012 - The Best Kept Secret to Happiness
How compassion is the best kept secret to being happy, healthy, wealthy and wise



Compassion's curative power

"Emma Seppala, PhD is the associate director of Stanford School of Medicine’s The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) and a well-known researcher and speaker on the science of well-being, social connection and compassion. BeWell spoke with Dr. Seppala to glean her latest insights and learned that strong medicine does not always come in a prescription drug vial.
Empathy: the most evolved form of kindness
Most of us (except in extreme cases, such as psychopaths) are wired for empathy, defined as the shared experience of someone else’s pain or pleasure. Whenever we look at or interact with others, parts of our brain, “mirror neurons,” internally echo what others do and feel. Someone’s smile, for example, activates the smile muscles in our faces, while a frown activates our frown muscles. In this way, we “read” other people’s states of mind."


The Compassionate Mind  Science shows why it’s healthy and how it spreads
Association for Psychological Science

"What is Compassion?
What is compassion and how is it different from empathy or altruism? The definition of compassion is often confused with that of empathy. Empathy, as defined by researchers, is the visceral or emotional experience of another person’s feelings. It is, in a sense, an automatic mirroring of another’s emotion, like tearing up at a friend’s sadness. Altruism is an action that benefits someone else.


 It may or may not be accompanied by empathy or compassion, for example in the case of making a donation for tax purposes. Although these terms are related to compassion, they are not identical. Compassion often does, of course, involve an empathic response and an altruistic behavior. However, compassion is defined as the emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help."

August 26, 2012 - Connect To Thrive: Social Connection Improves Health, Well-Being & Longevity
"People who feel more connected to others have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, are more empathic to others, more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. Social connectedness therefore generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true for those who lack social connectedness. Low social connection has been generally associated with declines in physical and psychological health as well as a higher propensity to antisocial behavior that leads to further isolation."



Emma Seppala - Can We Cultivate Compassion? - Empathy and Compassion in Society 2013

  • Can We Cultivate Compassion?

  • yes - compassion interventions Studies

    • Tania Singer - study

    • David DeSteno - study

    • Loving kindness training

    • Compassion - lower inflammation

    • Increases resilience

      • Less suppression of emotions

      • stress buffering component

  • Where is the research going?

  • Any research in organizations and compassion?

    • workplace stress - compassion buffers stress

    • happy work spaces - better health, productivity, customer service, loyalty

    • self sacrificing is good (?)

  • Have you worked with companies and compassion?

    • ripple effects of compassion

    • helping others and the benefits come back to ourselves


TEDx Hayward May 2013 Emma Seppala


The science behind social connection

  • how many friends do you have that you can share your problems with?

    • 25% of Americans say 0

    • others say 1 to 2

  • low or lack of social connection leads to many problems

    • more anxiety,

    • inflammation

    • violence by people who are very isolated

  • High social connection

    • better well being.

    • physical heath

    • longevity

  • we are wired for connection

    • mirror neurons

    • the bases of empathy

    • we are connected - with mirror neurons

  • loneliness is increasing in USA

    • main reason people seek therapy is loneliness

  • how can we increase social connection?

    • I'm  an introvert

    • I'm busy

    • I need to be perfect to connect with others.

  • Loneliness in a crowd

  • Change your internal state?

    • compassion for others and compassion for self

    • compassion is innate

    • rats - primates do it - help others in need

    • 2 year olds will do it

    • studies- first instinct is to share

    • Darwin - survival of the kindness

    • Robert Sapolsk - baboons study

  • Self-compassion

    • more resilient

  • Story

    • thank you for seeing me.

  • Compassion and happiness ripples out - build a culture of compassion