Beyond Human Altruism

February 23, 2010 by

Everything is giving and receiving. We don’t give even tiniest alms (materially or spiritually) without receiving something and vice versa. All progress is based on this. –Erkki Melartin

Fact of the Day:
Altruism may be far more widespread than had been realized. A new study shows that chimpanzees are capable of helping others without any thought of personal reward, demonstrating that young chimpanzees spontaneously and repeatedly helped humans who appeared to be struggling to reach sticks within the animals’ enclosure. Elsewhere in the animal world there are many examples of apparent altruism. Dolphins, for example, will support sick or injured animals, swimming under them for hours at a time and pushing them to the surface so they can breathe. However, such examples feature social animals where the “altruistic” individuals help their kin, which is relatively easy to explain in terms of ensuring the survival of the genes that both share. It’s much harder to explain altruism when unrelated individuals help each other — and hardest of all when it is between species. [ more ]

Submitted by: Avantika Vardhan

Be The Change:
“Five Love Notes to My Grandmother” is an inspirational story of one person’s moving experience with giving and receiving. [ more ]

from The Daily Good

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The Perceptiveness of Dogs

February 18, 2010 by

Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to. –Alfred A. Montapert

Good News of the Day:
Some dogs can smell odors given off by humans with bladder cancer and diabetes, researchers say. In some cases, the canines warn of oncoming attacks. Claire Guest, CEO of Cancer and Bio-Detection Dogs, says, “Now that we know that dogs are able to detect human disease by its odor, and that different diseases have different odors, the potential is just incredible to help individuals with life-threatening conditions but also to have new ways of looking at diagnosis of life-threatening diseases such as cancer.” This National Geographic video and article shares more. [ more ]

Be The Change:
Take time to really tune into your surroundings and the people you interact with.

from The Daily Good

The Time Bank: Better Than Barter

February 16, 2010 by

Life has meaning only if one barters it day by day for something other than itself. –Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Good News of the Day:
They stand over the table like surgeons, white masks over their noses and mouths, latex gloves covering their hands. Terrie Anderson is stirring a tub of gray grout powder while Sherri Shokler pours in what looks like milk from a thrift-store cream pitcher. Anderson, an educational consultant, is learning the art of mosaicing at a class taught by Sherri, an artist, and Jeff, an archaeologist turned university administrator. No money changes hands, however — she and the Shoklers are participants in a new local venture, the Dane County Timebank. The concept is simple. Each member of the bank donates time doing something he or she is good at — be it installing a sink, baby-sitting, dog walking or driving — and in return can receive the same number of hours of services from any other member. The bank keeps track. [ more ]

Be The Change:
Implement the time bank in your own context, even if it’s simply trading some services with a friend.

From The Daily Good

Plotting Happiness

February 15, 2010 by

I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy. –J.D. Salinger

Fact of the Day:
Helena Cronin, 64, philosopher, social scientist, and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science at the London School of Economics, has a different take on the survival of the fittest: “Look carefully at nature, and you will find that it doesn’t always seem short, brutish, and savage. Animals are strikingly unselfish.” Cronin offers a way of coping with shared adversity, a new school of competitive thinking based on the notion of an unselfish gene. Her ideas are a more challenging line of thought and a more accurate reflection of how the world works than the view popularized by Intel’s Andy Grove that “only the paranoid survive.” Cronin’s version of Darwinism instead talks about “pronoia” — the idea that altruism and generosity create more rewards than their opposites do. [ more ]

Be The Change:
Encourage your pronoia today — plot to make someone happy.
from The Daily Good

The Beauty of Taking a Break

February 15, 2010 by

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself. –Zen Proverb

Fact of the Day:
In our fast-paced information-saturated world, what role does down-time really play? Researchers at MIT say that regular breaks in brain activity are key to forming memories. Their fascinating work supports earlier research showing that animals and people learn best when information isn’t crammed together. “Perhaps we don’t take breaks seriously enough,” researcher David Foster says. “Perhaps we’re wrong to expect all learning to occur on the job. Perhaps an important part of learning in general, and in jobs and at school, is occurring during breaks.” This article provides more information along with a short video. [ more ]

Be The Change:
Experiment with scheduling regular break times into your day and noting the effect it has on the quality of your work.

from The Daily Good

The Evolution of Laughter

February 15, 2010 by

Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity. –Joseph Addison

Fact of the Day:
Laughter, a topic that has baffled philosophers for 2,000 years, is finally yielding to science. Researchers have now traced the evolution of laughter back to an unexpected discovery: laughter has little to do with humor. It’s an instinctual survival tool for social animals, not an intellectual response to wit. In other words, it’s not about getting the joke; it’s about getting along. Researcher Robert Provine maintains that it’s a largely involuntary process, and though people can consciously suppress laughs, few can make themselves laugh convincingly. In his words, “Laughter is an honest social signal because it’s hard to fake […] It’s a kind of behavioral fossil showing the roots that all human beings, maybe all mammals, have in common.” [ more ]

Be The Change:
Observe where your laughter arises from today and what effect it has, both inside and out.

from The Daily Good