This past week I stumbled upon an event in Washington DC called, "Buddha Fest." As a new fan of some psychological practices that originated from aspects of Buddhism (mindfulness), I was intrigued. Upon further investigation I realized that Daniel Goleman, renowned psychologist and author of Emotional Intelligence, was scheduled to speak this week! After a brief FanGirl moment, I purchased two tickets, and my husband and I made our way to American University this past Thursday.
He was there to promote and speak on behalf of his new book, "A Force For Good: The Dalai Lama's Vision for Our World." I was not raised in a church, but have recently been intrigued with learning more about various religious and spiritual beliefs, especially with the diversity that surrounds me in the DC area. Prior to the talk, I knew very little about the Dalai Lama, but this book has definitely made it to my summer reading list.
As the talk began, Daniel Goleman started by sharing that he has been long time friends with the Dalai Lama and had received a request to shadow him and churn out a book on his behalf. During the talk he spoke to various points from the Dalai Lama's "vision," several of which I loved.... others made my husband roll of his eyes... ever the realist, that one.
Daniel Goleman shared that the Dalia Lama's vision does not focus on Buddhism, but rather speaks to the science of the mind and strategies that one can use to better understand our emotional responses to situations, with the understanding that once we are better able to recognize these emotions, we are also better able to respond with reason and logic. He shared that the Dalai Lama meets with and learns from scientists, mental health professionals, and medical professionals in pursuit of a better understanding of cognition.
I was also (clearly) a major fan of another point he spoke to, which was the importance of educating children in schools with social/emotional skills. If you work in schools, you know that social/emotional skills are crucial for student success, and typically these skills unfortunately receive the least amount of attention. There has however been a recent push in schools for mindfulness-related curriculum being integrated into the school systems, like this one (which I have not actually used nor do I specifically endorse). I do however LOVE that they teach to different structures of the brain:
According to Daniel Goleman, the Dalai Lama's vision is far more than just understanding how the brain works. The foundation of his message is based on kindness and compassion towards others. The mission to understand your own mind and emotional reactions is to then gain a better understanding of others with the hope that cooperation and compassion will follow.
Daniel Goleman spoke to how inundated we are on a daily basis with negatively and stories that emphasize the worst in humanity. It makes us fear that "Things are worse than they've ever been!" or that "Kids can't even go outside to play anymore!" I listened to a podcast recently (probably Freakanomics, but I can't remember) they spoke to our fallacy as humans to think that things in the news happen far more frequently than they actually do. The fact that it's "news" speaks to the fact that it is typically noteworthy and novel.
For the Dalia Lama's 80th birthday a fantastic website was developed which shares positive stories that might typically otherwise go overlooked, and to promote kindness and compassion towards others and towards our earth as well. Here's the promotional video they showed at the talk:
Join A force for good
For some positive stories on this lovely Monday, check out the website here: Join A Force For Good. It's good stuff.
Those acoustics though.
As far as the presentation went, the talk that Daniel Goleman presented seemed a little bit scattered, but I can't help but think that the microphones had something to do with it. I can't leave without sharing one of my favorite things from this talk. The building where this speech was housed was far from ideal for a presentation. The roof was dome-shaped, which would make hearing with an adequate amplification system more difficult. Unfortunately, Daniel Goleman did not have an adequate amplification system. It was poor, at best. The dome-shaped building, plus the poor microphone, plus the quiet tone in which he spoke made for some of the most agitated listeners to a talk on compassion that I've ever seen! Every five-minutes someone would shout, "WEEEE CAN'TTTT HEARRRRR YOUUUUU!!!!" or a heavy sigh followed by "WHAT DID YOU SAY?!" Or "TURN IT UP. JUST TURN YOUR MICROPHONE UP!!!!!!" I think that the entertainment factor that this contrast brought, made for some of the pie in the sky statements a little more easy for my husband to take. On that note...