Episode #057: The Compassionate Instinct & Bringing Wonder Back to Work with Dacher Keltner
Hey, welcome to the Volunteer Nation Podcast, bringing you practical tips and big ideas on how to build, grow, and scale volunteer talent. I’m your host, Tobi Johnson, and if you rely on volunteers to fuel your charity cause membership or movement, I made this podcast just for you.
Tobi: Welcome everybody to another episode of the Volunteer Nation podcast. I am super pumped. Dacher Keltner is here to talk about the compassionate instinct, bringing wonder and awe back into our lives, becoming more resilient, all the good stuff. And I think it’s a good time to talk about this because I think it’s been challenging for many of us just going through the stress and trauma of a worldwide pandemic, but also bringing our volunteers back.
It’s been hard to bring people back, and I’ve often argued to my members and my students that we need to create almost a better experience than the world around us when it comes to engaging volunteers in our nonprofits. Our volunteerism and the experience of volunteers can’t be more stressful than the world is, right? So today we want to delve into how we can go about doing that from an expert in positive psychology, in compassion in now his new book on awe.
It’s just an interesting conversation that is probably a little bit outside of what you would imagine we would talk about in terms of tactics, et cetera. But I think we’re going to have a good conversation. So let’s get started. Dacher Keltner is the professor of psychology at the University of California Berkeley, and the faculty director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, a renowned expert in the science of human emotion. Dr. Keltner studies compassion and awe, what a fun thing to study, how we express emotion and how emotions guide our moral identities and search for meaning. I think volunteerism is about searching for meaning in our lives.
His research interests also span the issues of power, status, inequality, and social class. And he’s the author of the Power Paradox and the bestselling book, Born to Be Good, and the co-editor of The Compassionate Instinct. His most recent book is Awe, the New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life. And I am very excited to welcome you to the Volunteer Nation podcast.
Dacher: Tobi, it’s a privilege to be with you. One of the great delights and honors in my life is to not only to volunteer in my own life, but to be part of movements of volunteerism, and I hope our conversation inspires more.
Tobi: Awesome. Well, tell me a little bit about your own volunteerism. Any favorites, favorite experiences or current experience that you would love to share?
Dacher: Yeah, I mean, well, it’s profound. It’s changed my life. I have a busy life as a professor and lab scientist and the like, and teaching at Berkeley, but I have been fortunate to have three or four kinds of volunteerism with the criminal justice system doing restorative justice inside San Quentin, writing an amicus brief against solitary confinement, working with the Bay Area Freedom Collective on helping the formerly incarcerated get out.
And then I’ve done a lot of work with environmentalist groups, from Sierra Club to Outward Bound and the like. And so they, in some ways they’ve pointed me to my soul, like this is the work I do in, I teach, I do science. But where I really cheer up and find enduring meaning is in volunteerism.
Tobi: Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. It’s true. I also volunteer in sort of, I would call it environmental, but it’s, I’m a master gardener. And our, our goal is always to get people to do integrative pest management and use less pesticides and have less turf grass and have more like regenerative and permaculture type approaches to their gardens. But tell us a little bit more about what you do. Your most research and discourse seems to revolve around humans behaving badly. But yours is different. What sparked your interest in research in the science of happiness, compassion, awe? What got you started and made you think, this is what I want to study, because I think it’s was pretty, probably pretty counterintuitive when you first started.
Dacher: Very much so. Yeah. I came of age in grad school and then in my early career studying human emotion, like you said, Tobi. And most of it was including my own work was focused on the negative emotions that are a necessary part of life of anger and fear and shame and the like. And I got interested in emotions like compassion and awe in part through personal experience just being raised by an activist mother and a artistic dad, and a wild time of the late sixties of a lot of awe around me and art and revolution and protest.
And was struck by, in some sense the central thesis of studying emotion, which is that they are compasses in our life. They orient thought action toward things like taking care of the vulnerable or protecting nature or redressing injustice. And so I felt that early in my life, just my background and my parents, and then I studied the science of emotion and know how to measure expression and vocalization and physiology and brain and so forth. And I realized this western European largely male science of emotion up until about 1980 was all about anger and fear and Freud and stuff.
And that’s good, but we are missing such vital emotions in our scientific inquiry like compassion. Which a lot of people feel is just a default state of the mind or awe, same thing. Like this is a basic experience. And so my mom always raised me to do things you believe in and not what worry about what other people think about. And so I became the crazy guy who studied the evolution of compassion and awe.
Tobi: Yeah. And I’m so grateful you have, I remember your TED talk way back when on compassion, and the first time I listened to it, I said yes, because working in volunteerism and nonprofits, we see it, that’s the a way of life for volunteers. It’s how they do and there’s been so much in the last 15 years or so, there’s been so much fantastic research on the human brain. I mean, we know so much more than we knew 15 years ago in terms of what drives action and behavior.
I mean, it used to be the I think therefore I am right kind of re prefrontal cortex. I think people didn’t even know what it was that back then. Yeah. And now we know that the emotions are really what drives most behavior in humans, which is fantastic. It’s fascinating.
Dacher: It is and doing the work on compassion where we’ve really mapped its physiology and how it helps promote caring and sharing and cooperating. Volunteerism actually is was one of the important literatures that’s relevant to compassion. And you start to discover what you really care about in terms of volunteerism is animated by those moments of compassion. Like, I really care about really poor children and want to fix that part of our society, or I really care about clean water. And so like you said, those emotions are the animators. And so we have to as activists and volunteers, we have to find how we keep cultivating them when we get tired and work hard for no pay and face institutional biases.
Tobi: Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting. Volunteer Match, which is an online volunteer matching software that helps organizations and volunteers connect, which is actually based in the Bay Area. They did a recent study where they were asking volunteers why they volunteered, and there’s a fair amount of research on volunteer motivation, and it’s usually around the functional motives of volunteers.
I want to get more on my resume, or I want to improve the world. There’s that. But one of the interesting things that came out was this, I want to express kindness and caring for others. And I was like, whoa. Like, that’s the number one thing people were saying. It wasn’t about I want to change the world. It wasn’t about I want to have some power or in decision making. It wasn’t any of those things. It was, I want to have an ability to be able to express caring for others.
Dacher: Yeah. And I mean, and that’s a sign that the world is starting to become smart about the role of emotion in guiding our purposeful lives. I ask my undergrad a question related to awe, which is, think about awe, the feeling of being just amazed by things that are vast and mysterious brings you tears and chills and a sense of purpose. Sort of take a moment, write about an early experience of awe, and just observe how it points you to things that really matter to you, just like compassion points you to who you want to volunteer for. And those inquiries into awe, students are like, I never realized that I care about literally like, protecting pets or abandoned animals or protecting forests. So without emotions, we would be rudderless in some way and not know which way to orient our best behavior.
Tobi: Yeah. In your mind, I mean, you’re obviously an activist and very active in the types of causes you like to support. Why do you think overall in today’s world in particular, altruism and compassionate acts are so important? I mean, they always have been. Humans thrive on planning and caring for one another. We would not have survived as long as a species if we didn’t. But in today’s world, at this moment in history and human history, why do you think that altruism is so important, compassion is so important? Those two things.
Dacher: We’re facing sort of unprecedented crises, climate crisis, refugees, 700,000 unhoused people in the United States, criminal justice system, that’s as brutal as almost any in the industrialized world, levels of poverty that are persistent and then environment. And we need the sense I get from young people today, it’s interesting, Tobi. They’ve lost faith in free markets and capitalism and in large part of the US government, which is free markets and capital, or not relatively free markets and capitalism. And so they’re like, I want to take things in my own hands and I want to clean the beach or figure out ways to deliver meals to the unhoused.
And so our safety net has fallen since Ronald Reagan have been weakened. And it’s the good work of volunteers that are going to make up the difference. And so, sadly, we need it. We need it in unprecedented degrees. And then I think that, we humans love service. We find service deeply rewarding. It activates dopamine release in the brain. It’s just, it’s essential. And we need to speak to that impulse in our people. And volunteerism allows people to do that. So it’s a vital layer to a healthy society.
Tobi: Yeah. Yeah. Couldn’t agree more. How has the compassionate instinct helped us evolve as a species? So what’s the connection between compassion and wellbeing, aside from just dopamine or just the few goods?
Dacher: Yeah, it’s really a few fold. And I write about this in Born To Be Good in the compassionate instinct, which is in the last 20 years we’ve realized that we are this hyper carrying species, and the data are remarkable. Babies, young children will help an adult starting in 18 months, a stranger. We share 40% of our resources to somebody. We routinely sacrifice for people in need. It’s just built into us. It helps us evolutionarily by taking care of vulnerable beings, in particular vulnerable offspring. It helps the individual because it just is inherently empowering to the body.
And there’s linkages between compassion, volunteerism, and life expectancy that I could bore you with the neurophysiological pathways of, but really readily understood. It helps social networks. So the more people practice compassion, the more it spreads. And you get these really tight cooperative social networks. And then at the societal level, it, and there’s less evidence on this, but it’s probably good for the goodwill of society that you go to a country, I think the US struggles with this. We don’t trust people as much.
There’s a lot of violence, et cetera. We don’t trust institutions. But you go to cultures that feel healthier, and there’s this low level kindness that’s practiced, civility and taking care of everybody. That really at the level of the nation is important. So people often like to think about like, man, what’s the one thing I would add to a good neighborhood or a classroom or a hospital? And compassion and awe are good candidates for the thing, things to cultivate.
Tobi: Interesting. Yeah, I was just interviewing another guest who’s an academic in the Netherlands, and their approach to volunteerism is so much more of a collective. The solutions here, were much more individualistic. There, the, the solutions in communities are always collective. It’s always neighbors helping neighbors. It’s a way of life there. And I had a little, a little bit of envy, I got to tell you. I was like, can I move to the Netherlands? Maybe I should.
Dacher: But they rep those countries and their profiles, they provoke us to think about, well, what can we change?
Tobi: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So many of our listeners are involved in enlisting volunteer support from their communities, as I discussed. We were talking about that before we jumped on live. Is there anything that you believe, because they are, I see them as sort of architects of the volunteer experience of human experience as a volunteer coordinator.
They can make decisions about the way that they are engaging people and the environment and the context they’re setting up for folks to live into their values and their values of compassion and altruism. What can they do to either prime or block that instinct? What stops human beings or starts? I know there’s probably not a button in the brain that says, yes, I’m going to give and give more, but I’m sure there’s a context, a table, if you will, that could be set, that would set a better stage for people to enable that part of themselves.
Dacher: Yeah. I mean, I think that and there’s a lot of work on this, and I write about it a bit in the Born To Be Good, which is how do we enable compassionate based volunteering? You make it really vividly clear who you’re helping. You tell stories of the strength and benefits of compassion in your organization. You set up a culture of compassion of making it pretty clear that this is like in a school, like we practice compassion.
You have role models that embody compassion, that are that show that inspire us through their sacrifice. And then just as importantly, you got to look at the barriers to compassion, like time constraints and then also like the culture of competitiveness and adversarial, that’s pretty well documented. Like, man, if you make people think it’s dog eat dog or arms race, you’ll constrain our better tendencies. So there’s a lot of good work on just how do we get people to honor this strong tendency towards compassion.
Tobi: When you talk about adversarial, I think about just keeping it real for those of you who work in nonprofits, nonprofits can tend to be turfy at times, tend to be competitive. And I think that’s a symptom of a scarcity mindset. I think when you have an abundance mindset, you’re not worried, you know that the universe will provide at some point, and you just need to keep moving forward with right action.
And I think when there’s that scar scarcity mindset, it tends to shut people down. And start to feel like, look, you are our volunteers. You’re not their volunteers. And most power volunteers, people volunteer deeply, often volunteer from multiple organizations, and they don’t see any of the like, lines in the sand, et cetera. So I feel like that’s another, when you’re talking about adversarial, I think that that’s where that creeps in, in the nonprofit sector.
Dacher: I agree. And this is just what’s unique and complex about the United States, it is this competitive society for sometimes good, but it also can undermine the spirit of common cause in, in certain realms like volunteerism. And that should not be a zero sum space. It’s about everyone’s actions are beneficial. So I think it’s important to keep an eye on that.
Tobi: Yeah. Yeah. It will block the compassion. You’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot. So let’s switch gears. You’ve been studying recently the emotions of awe and wonder. Why these emotions over others? What led you in your journey of discovery of scholarly pursuits? How come awe came up?
Dacher: Well, it came up because almost everything that I found inspiring about human beings and what they do, there was awe nearby. I’m a huge fan of Rachel Carson and her environmentalist work and her writing such an inspiring figure. And I read into her and it was like, it was awe. She just felt such wonder for nature, and she had to write about insecticides and the, and the pesticides. And like, Charles Darwin is a hero. And I just started studying his life. And it’s like he got to evolutionary theory through awe. Some of the philosophers I like most, really from Einstein on, it’s just awe and wondering.
And it really is related to things that are mysterious and just essential to human beings, like visual art. And I was raised by an artist. In music, and I’ve had transformative experiences in music and nature of course. And so it just stood there as like, almost like a challenge. Like, I dare you to try to study me. And this amazing state. And we have the tools now in science to do that. And I had to go after it. I also have to say, Tobi, I had a wild childhood. I was born in Mexico and grew up in the late sixties around protests and artists and polyamorous weddings as a young kid. And it was like, wow, look at humans. They love this emotion. And so I went after it.
Tobi: That’s fantastic. I love it. I love it. And I think you’re right. I mean, we do have the tools now that we didn’t have before. I feel like, I don’t know, we’re going to get into this because I have my own theories about what’s happening, and I don’t know, because I’m not a scientist. But let’s dig into awe a little bit. What are the characteristics of it and what does it do to our brains?
Dacher: Yeah. Well, it’s so interesting because awe, the feeling we have when we encounter vast mysteries, we don’t understand. We feel that our research shows in response to nature and music and other people’s sacrifice and goodness and art and big ideas and spirituality and life and death. And what I call the eight wonders of life in this book, Awe.
It’s interesting though, even knowing that the definitions and where we find it, people are often like, I’m not, have I had an experience of awe? And now we know, we’ve done a lot of work that shows when you have an experience of awe, like you’re out in this incredible forest, or you see a young child give away their lunch to an unhoused person, or you hear an incredible speech, you psychologically you feel smaller, you feel less stressed, time seems to stretch, you feel like you have more time, you feel connected to community, you feel very altruistic, and you want to be good to people.
That’s the psychology of it. Then we get to the neurophysiology, which you asked about. And, and it’s fascinating. When we feel awe, we feel tears. We get the chills. We have activation in the vagus nerve, this bundle of nerves that slows down your heart and deepens your breathing. And then in the brain, a lot of people talk about during awe, they feel selfless or ego death, or Emerson wrote about the mean egotism vanishing.
And indeed these self-focused regions of the brain, the default mode network, when we feel awe are deactivated. So, huh. Literally in the brain you become egoless. And it opens you up to the beauties of awe, which is God, there’s something so purposeful here and such, such a spirit to what I see, and I’m part of this really important community. So you got to shut down the self to get there.
T obi: Yeah. Yeah. I have a Masters Degree in Art History. And just love, it’s to this day, when I go, when I want to be calm, especially when I’m traveling and I’m near a museum that has some pretty awesome work. I will go and it’s like forest bathing, but in a museum. I love being out in the woods too, but forest bathing, people don’t know what that is. It’s sort of coined in Japan, but folks just go walk in the woods and feel better. And similarly, when I go to a museum, whatever it just calms my whole, whole body down. It’s crazy. And part of it is the awe of the artist and where did this come from?
Sometimes it’s the awe of the technique. Sometimes it’s the idea, sometimes it’s the technique. So that’s fantastic. And then when I’m out in the garden, and the thing that brings me the most awe I’ve been transplanting seedlings lately, is that a tiny seed can become like a six foot tomato plant. Like, how does that happen? I mean, we know how it happens, but still, it’s just a dormant seed and suddenly it becomes a sustaining thing that’s growing and it’s insane. I don’t know how that happens.
Hey, let’s take a quick break with our discussion about the compassionate instinct and awe. And we will be right back after this break, and we’ll talk a little bit more about how do we create these opportunities or do they just happen on their own? And if there’s any way people in the nonprofit space can use some of this knowledge to really do better in the world or promote greater good. So we’ll be right back gang.
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Tobi: We are right back with our conversation with Dr. Keltner and we’re talking about the compassionate instinct, but more now we’re kind of evolving into our conversation about awe and how we might create it, how we might foster it, and what difference it might make in all of us. And Dacher’s book is Awe, the New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life. We’ll make sure to post some links in the show notes, but let’s talk about this idea of awe. What can it do for us? We talked a little bit about what happens in the brain, how are people leaning into awe to make a change? You’ve talked about in your book how it can transform your life. How does awe or how can awe transform your life?
Dacher: It’s profound. If you just look at some of the basic effects of awe, brief experiences of awe, right. I’ll just highlight a couple, a little moment of awe out in nature listening to music. And we’ve done research in healthcare settings, makes people feel less lonely and more connected to community. And we know loneliness is an epidemic right now. Our activists may feel this way, like, God, I’m just fighting against this vast cause. A little burst of all helps your immune system.
It reduces inflammation. A little burst of awe helps your heart, which we talked about by activating the vagus nerve. And then there’s new work showing that it makes you more creative and have just a clearer sense of your purpose in the context you’re in. And, and so that, and, and I could go on the benefits of awe, but that begs the question of, okay, I’m a volunteer. I’m doing hard work. Like when I’ve volunteered in prison and outside of prison, that’s tough work. It’s like, it’s hard to see what prison is like, the conditions inside. It’s hard to see how hard our system is on prisoners. It’s hard to see how hard it is to get out of prison.
It’s dispiriting. So what do I do? Given the challenges of volunteerism and the science is really clear. Like find a little bit of awe in your work. We’ve studied awe walks. You can tell stories about awe. You can, with your volunteer colleague share stories of an awe-inspiring moment in your volunteerism. So there are a lot of ways to cultivate this emotion that serve our better tendencies, such as volunteerism.
Gobi: Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s that self-reflection. It’s interesting. I think when people volunteer and when I’m in my volunteering, there are moments where you have a moment with another human where you feel really connected, where you feel like you see a small opening, even if it’s a difficult situation. I used to work in San Francisco, I used to live in the Bay Area, and I started an employment and training program for an organization called Larkin Street Youth Center, which working with homeless youth.
And I remember how challenging it would be sometimes, because kids are going to do what they’re going to do. You can of course provide the situation. You can provide the opportunity, and they have to decide Yep. Young adults, they need to decide on their own. And I remember feeling fatigued at some point and going, all right, I’ve got to work on my professional boundary setting. I’ve got to make sure that I’m like not overly identifying all the professional social worky type stuff.
But you’re saying, you actually have another route as well, another avenue. Hey go, go take a walk in Golden Gate Park.
Dacher: Yeah and build it into your work. It was striking Tobi during the pandemic, I’ve done a lot of teaching to healthcare providers and Kaiser Permanente, very large healthcare system delivers. And during the pandemic it was chaos and it was like combat, inside hospitals, people were dying, they couldn’t see their family. There was confusing governmental policy. The doctors, there was 30% reduction in staffing. It was chaos. And they brought me in to teach awe to help them respond to this once in a generation crisis in healthcare. And it was incredible.
Like even just amongst your colleagues, like just share a story of what it was awe-inspiring about your work. Someone you volunteered for, somebody, a colleague of yours whose work is extraordinary. And hearing just that simple thing, taking lunch outside, sharing a little bit of awes inspiring music, talking about somebody you’ve served who really has been inspiring such simple ways. And it was fascinating to see, like you said, how this emotion, awe can help with volunteerism and healthcare and classrooms and creative work in a tech firm. As Einstein said, this emotion is the cradle of art and science. It just is the fountain of really good human activity. So let’s bring it to work.
Tobi: I think if you can foster storytelling and space for storytelling, especially with volunteers. I mean, as I said, whether you’re working in nonprofits, I’ve worked in nonprofits for like 25 years before I started doing consulting and training and whatnot. And I can remember specific awe-inspiring moments throughout my career that obviously kept me coming back. I worked in nonprofits the entire time, could never go corporate, probably could have made more money, but whatever. And I can remember key moments of time where I was just in awe of the transformation that someone who was benefiting from our work, especially with young people, I’m particularly love working with youth and just watching somebody turn on a dime because young people can turn on a dime. They can change their life right in front of your eyes. And it’s awe-inspiring.
Dacher: It’s just like healthcare, like healthcare is so focused on, rightfully so, disease struggles, et cetera. But you got to take these moments of like, look how strong the human spirit is. Look how people transform. Look at how even when they are handling hard things, they show grace. And, and those are awe-inspiring stories.
Tobi: Yeah, for sure. What about, we’ve been talking on an individual level on a more societal level or community level. Is there a connection between awe and pro-social behavior? What’s that connection and how does that mechanism work?
Dacher: Yeah. Well, we have done a lot of work on awe, the basic effects at the social psychological level. And it was inspired by this idea that we are a hyper social species and we thrived in groups and, and we are strengthened by strong community and we need emotions and shifts in mind to orient us to the collective to become altruistic, to use your word or cooperative. Guided by that thinking, we’ve done a bunch of studies and little moments of awe. You go look up at the trees for a minute, and you help a stranger who’s in need of picking up a bunch of stuff they dropped.
Little moments of awe lead you to share more of a resource with a stranger. Little moments of awe taking in a big view from a tower. Jennifer Stellar finds make you more humble. You’re more interested in the strengths of other people, your fellow humans, rather than looking upon them enviously. So this emotion for largely good and sometimes problematic, like if you think about becoming devoted to a cult. Most of the time awe orients you to make the group you’re part of stronger in a selfless ways. And we need that, we need that today too. So very important to remember those altruistic effects.
Tobi: Yeah, absolutely. And gang, listeners, there’s so much awe-inspiring happening in nonprofits. I think we forget it sometimes if you’re in the trenches day in, day out, it’s sort of like healthcare in the trenches day in and day out. You’re not always seeing the many transformations that are happening with people in front of you and happening in your community. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost. And so I think something that might also be helpful is just mindfulness.
I like to meditate daily, whatever you need to get in touch with what happened in my day. Maybe you set your intention for your day. Maybe you’re reflecting on your day and finding those. Because it is hard right now. It’s hard for leaders of volunteers. They wear a lot of hats in organizations. They are underpaid, they are stretched really thin, and they are in the middle of the leadership of the organization and the community volunteers and they are managing it all. And as traditional my middle managers, they’re the sort of, one of my, one of my members once called it like they felt like emotional air traffic control for their organization.
I think people can feel overwhelmed and we’ve lost people. People have left the field. What are some ways with compassion, awe, et cetera, we’ve talked a lot about already, but maybe there’s some other tips you have for people to just prevent that sense of burnout.
Dacher: Yeah. Well, what I always tell people is and you can take both, which is compassion laws is, and I teach this in at Berkeley and in online offerings is like, find two to five practices that you can just build on through your life. So compassion, you might have a loving kindness practice, which is really well tested in the lab, just extending kind feelings to people. I wish you not to suffer. I wish you happiness. That really works. And you can draw upon that at any time. I really like to translate compassion to embodied behavior and to practice kindness in your tone of voice and taking a deep breath when you’re helping someone and orienting towards where they are that day.
You can see this great volunteers, great doctors do that, right? Just bringing it into their tone of voice, their pattern of touch, mutual eye contact is just a powerful source of oxytocin and compassion and a sense of connectivity. And then awe, there’s so many ways to do awe and I would really think about where’s your place outside that really is sacred?
In Berkeley I go to this little place by a stream a lot return to it. Think about contemplative practice in your mind. Like, think about people who really, whose moral beauty really moves you. Just take a moment to like, whose sacrifice really changed how I look at the world and what did that give to me?
You can go to Greater Good In Action, ggia.berkeley.edu to find these. And there are a lot of ways, and I always just tell people, like, find a couple, do a couple each day and you’ll be doing pretty well.
Tobi: Yeah. I love that question or those two questions, who has impacted me and what did they do that made a real difference? I think about my grandmother when I do some of my meditations actually, when I’m trying to move from one state to another, when you’re trying to move from a negative state to a positive state. You can take yourself to a remembered experience with a loved one, for example. And start to remap your brain. I think our understanding of the human brain and the power we can actually exert over ourselves is just like, we’re just starting to understand where that’s at.
Dacher: Yep. We are. No, and it’s profound. I mean, a lot of these practices have been tested with neuroscientific methods shifts, deactivates, the amygdala three threat region of your brain activates reward circuitry in the brain. So you’re right. I mean that those data tell us that this isn’t just, new ag, woo, whatever you call it. But this is, these are old contemplative practices that really matter.
Tobi: Yeah. Yeah. And I just can’t wait to see what happens in the next decade ahead. I think that we’re at a crux in human evolution. I really do. Because of, we are now more aware even of how our mind can change our brain. Our brain can change our mind, the whole like cycle. I just think it’s a really interesting time in human evolution. And hopefully it will transform into something that’s also good for society as a whole, not just individuals.
Dacher: Well it is, it already is. Our hospitals are different, our schools are different. We just got to get people to pay their fair share of taxes and stop burning fossil fuels. Big problems but it’s part of our solution, set of solutions.
Tobi: Yeah, Absolutely. Well on that, and let’s make sure gang get your hands on this book. I mean, it’s an inspiring experience just to read the book and hear the stories and for a relaxing read. I think it’s a very relaxing uninspiring read. Get your hands on the book and let me ask you one more question before we log off and I ask all my guests this, what are you most excited about in the year of ahead?
Dacher: Oh, what I’m most excited about, and I would really encourage our listeners to go to our podcast, Science of Happiness. We have a couple of hundred thousand listeners and we’ve just started, and we’ve often profiled activists and volunteers in criminal justice and schools and the like and end of life care. But we’ve just started a program on climate, hope and science. Climate hope and science and how we are in the midst of this revolution that an energy revolution, a protecting the earth revolution that is returning us to our indigenous roots.
So I’m excited about that. And then I would also encourage our listeners, I’m doing a lot of work in the contemplative space, awe, compassion, transcendence with Dr. Yure Swin, who’s an indigenous scholar and activist at the United Nation, soon to be at Berkeley. Really long overdue. she is pioneering how to get indigenous wisdom in the careful, respectful way to the kind of conversations you and I are having of what are those deep, older indigenous traditions say about transcendence and compassion and caring for the earth. And we’re building that out. And I think her work will really change the conversation around a lot of issues. So it’s an honor to be part of that too.
Tobi: Absolutely. I cannot wait to learn more about that. So I, I’ve taken some notes to make sure we have all these links in the show notes, but is there anything else you’d like to mention how people can get in touch with you or if they’re interested in learning more, or how can they learn more about your research?
Dacher. Yeah, I would go to dacherkeltner.com and also greatergood.berkeley.edu or just listen to our podcast, Science of Happiness. And it has a lot of stuff on practices for how happiness break too. How to take a few minutes each day and feel stronger, even if you’re doing really hard work like volunteers do.
Tobi: Awesome. Well thanks Dacher. I really appreciate you being here. And it’s been a great conversation. I hope it’s inspired folks, that there are things you can do. We are not victims of our circumstances. We can actually take actions small and large. We can even just stop and smell the roses. I mean that’s, that’s a wondering on in it in and of itself.
So absolutely take a moment. Think about how you can create an environment for volunteers to do more storytelling and sharing about their experiences. I think they experience mission moments on a daily basis. And they don’t, nobody ever asks, hey, tell me about your day. What was something that was really fantastic that happened today?
And I think if we slow down a little bit and just take a moment, I think we can help our volunteers become more resilient and also help ourselves become more resilient as nonprofit workers. So gang, if you love this ex this episode, I hope you’ll share it with a friend who might need a little pick me up and inspiration.
And if you would please subscribe, rate, that helps us reach more people and share the good word about volunteerism and leading volunteers. So take care, we will see you next week, same time, same place on the Volunteer Nation. Take care everybody.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Volunteer Nation Podcast. If you enjoyed it, please be sure to subscribe, rate, and review so we can reach people like you who want to improve the impact of their good cause. Bring more tips and notes from the show. Check us out at Tobijohnson.com. We’ll see you next week for another installment of Volunteer Nation.