Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dacher Keltner on happiness and health

In modern psychology more than in traditional psychology there is attention for happiness. This new psychology is called positive psychology and it holds as tenant that what allows people to function well in their lives are their strong qualities and that what helps people who need psychological help more than anything is emphasis on their strong points. It makes for a psychology that is less busy with neuroses and deficiencies, but rather with emotional strengths, social intelligence, compassion, well-being and therefore, eventually happiness.

Consequently, on psychology podcasts, both lecture series (see more below) and specialized interview podcasts such as Shrink Rap Radio there is a lot of attention for the proponents, subjects and findings in positive psychology. In that respect an especially noteworthy issue was the interview with Berkeley professor Dacher Keltner (Shink Rap Radio #217). Keltner is a specialist in happiness and shared a great wealth of insight with the listeners. One of those are his arguments that positive emotions such as compassion are actually a product of evolution and hence, paraphrasing Darwin, evolution is not survival of the fittest, but rather of the kindest. He even argues Darwin himself believed this. (Shrink Rap radio feed)

Shrink Rap Radio's interview with Keltner is a fine way to get 45 minutes of his thought, but if you want more, you are advised to continue through to UC Berkeley and pick up his lecture course on happiness and health: Letters and Science C160V, 001, Psychology C162, 001 - Human Happiness (feed) Here you can find out much more about positive emotions, about the parts of the brain responsible for this, about touch, compassion, forgiveness and much much more.

My colleague podcast reviewer DIY Scholar has written two very relevant reviews of Keltner's course to which I happily refer you: Human Happiness and Are we a touch Starved Culture?

More Shrink Rap Radio:
Resurrection after rape,
Life Changing Lessons,
Shrink Rap Radio - 200 great podcasts,
Technology and The Evolving Brain,
Nova Spivack.
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