Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Ellen Waldren
469 followers -
Beautiful Writing on Everyday Things
Beautiful Writing on Everyday Things

469 followers
About
Ellen's posts

Post has attachment
Another little beauty out of my kiln for all you folk who do what it says on the mug.
Photo

Post has attachment
Valentine's Day might be long gone, but the sentiment still continues.
http://ellenwaldren.com/
Photo

Post has attachment
Photo

Post has attachment
Just getting ready for the Christmas Fair season, it's all go here till the Big Day - woohoo
Photo

Post has attachment
Boy, that's a slave to fashion - ouch

Post has attachment
Hot out of the kiln, some Alice in Wonderland nonsense with the original 1865 drawing by John Tenniel
Photo
Photo
2014-06-01
2 Photos - View album

Post has attachment

Post has attachment
So those vampires knew a thing or two

Post has shared content
Interesting stuff - empathy +David Amerland 
What We Feel Matters in How We Think

When British psychologist Edward B. Titchener (http://goo.gl/VEmFR9) first coined the word “Empathy” in 1909 little could he foresee the importance it would acquire in 21st century living and marketing. The English derivation of the word comes from the ancient Greek word “empatheia” which is a compound of  “in” and “pathos” (loosely translated as being in pathos) which means physical affection, passion and partiality. It also has come to be understanding and imagining oneself in another’s circumstances. 

Because empathy has come to be one of the defining characteristics of a normalized brain, it has also figured prominently in nature vs nurture debates where proponents of the latter argue that it is an emergent phenomenon pf aggregate social behavior (i.e. it appears only after we evolve into a society with complex human interactions) and is therefore a sign of a highly organized, highly complex brain. A study carried out at the University of Miami on young children (http://goo.gl/sGDGf) suggests that empathy has strong natural roots (which would suggest it confers a biological advantage) before it becomes a socially desirable attribute. 

In many of my talks and presentations to corporate leaders I advise on ways to help generate empathetic responses within organizational processes because when we fail to do so what usually remains is a cause-and-effect response that is so procedural as to have totally predictable (and often catastrophic) outcomes. To illustrate the point consider the most unlikely of scenarios: forming a close bond with a crocodile. 

A remnant of the dinosaurs that’s anything between 62 and 55 million years old, bound by thick scaly armour, armed with sharp teeth and guided by a reptilian brain (http://goo.gl/emRFSK), a crocodile would be the most unlikely candidate to show emotion, compassion or friendship towards a human. Yet, the touching story of Poncho and Chito (http://goo.gl/RhmRxd) is one of an incredible bond that transcends the traditional perceptual barriers between man and reptile. In the video  (warning, it is 45 minutes long: http://goo.gl/Hz57mX) Chito talks about how in approaching Poncho he leaves his humanity behind, approaching him like he, himself is a crocodile, “an animal” as Chito says. 

This is empathy at work. While we cannot tell how Poncho feels, there is an undeniable connection there. 

Nowhere is empathy as a force more evident than when traditional interspecies barriers are breached (http://goo.gl/5z5a9w) and unlikely relationships are formed, like those of a man with a tiger (http://goo.gl/sQOheP) or a boy with a snake (http://goo.gl/flD2q6). Or another boy with another snake (http://goo.gl/PlXsA4) or the even more heart-wrenching story of an elephant’s bond with a dog (http://goo.gl/oeJW1F) and the way she was later comforted by other elephants. 

This shows a number of things: 1. Empathy (http://goo.gl/xrVCn7) is not a uniquely human trait (though, as usual, it is humans who analyze it, study it and try to understand it). 

2. Without it we become automatons, going through the motions of very specific actions but being bereft of feelings, our motive force being purely self-preservational.  

3. Contrary to belief empathy, whether learned or innate, needs to be consciously activated and even psychopaths can be taught to experience it (http://goo.gl/UasTkt).

These three things make the very experience of empathy a delicate mix of higher aesthetics (http://goo.gl/NVAW2P) and simple humility (http://goo.gl/MHmW1X) without which the delicate bond breaks and hubris allows us to think that we can really know how someone else thinks and understand why. The reasons empathy can fail (http://goo.gl/qaWzBK) are particularly human. But human are also the reasons it can succeed (http://goo.gl/KfvPH). Whether we feel for real or fictional characters (http://goo.gl/KUYiAa) empathy becomes the humanizing bridge that allows us to learn from right and wrong. It creates a counterbalancing sense of values that make the rigorous of “me-first” fall silent long enough for the wealth of our human emotions to assert themselves. 

We are hard wired to be social (http://goo.gl/MNj4L9), our brains replete with social adaptations that are designed to give our species a competitive advantage which is why we pay so much attention, now, to our own empathy scores (http://goo.gl/xv3SuK) and try to understand if the people we have chosen to lead our industries are really psychopathic monsters (http://goo.gl/rPZ4f). 

As we move into a world of greater proximity to each other than ever before, the ability to empathize with others can help transform the technologies we use from mere tools to truly enabling, humanizing connections. At that point we will manage to become not just better at what we do as professionals and marketers and content producers but also better at being human. 

I hope you started reading all this fully caffeinated and with an ample supply of sugar-treats at hand (it’s weekend so these just have to be cookies and doughnuts, brownies and muffins). This has been a post that’s been some time coming. Have a great weekend, wherever you are. 


#davidamerlandsundayread  
Photo

Post has attachment
My garden, coming into its best at this time of the year, aquilegias, lupins, foxgloves and some buttercups in an English country garden
Photo
Wait while more posts are being loaded