Positive Psychology: Raising Happy, Kind Children Evolutionarily Adaptive

By , March 5, 2010 4:34 pm

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

Do Kinder People Have an Evolutionary Advantage?
“Positive psychology” research indicates that the kinder you are, the more likely you are to survive — and evolve. Quoted from March 4, 2010 article from AlterNet, by Yasmin Anwar:

In contrast to “every man for himself” interpretations of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkeley psychologist and author of “Born to be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life,” and his fellow social scientists are building the case that humans are successful as a species precisely because of our nurturing, altruistic and compassionate traits.

They call it “survival of the kindest.”

“Because of our very vulnerable offspring, the fundamental task for human survival and gene replication is to take care of others,” said Keltner, co-director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. “Human beings have survived as a species because we have evolved the capacities to care for those in need and to cooperate. As Darwin long ago surmised, sympathy is our strongest instinct.”

…While much of the positive psychology being studied around the nation is focused on personal fulfillment and happiness, UC Berkeley researchers have narrowed their investigation into how it contributes to the greater societal good.

One outcome is the campus’s Greater Good Science Center, a West Coast magnet for research on gratitude, compassion, altruism, awe and positive parenting, whose benefactors include the Metanexus Institute, Tom and Ruth Ann Hornaday and the Quality of Life Foundation.

Christine Carter, executive director of the Greater Good Science Center, is creator of the “Science for Raising Happy Kids” Web site, whose goal, among other things, is to assist in and promote the rearing of “emotionally literate” children. Carter translates rigorous research into practical parenting advice. She says many parents are turning away from materialistic or competitive activities, and rethinking what will bring their families true happiness and well-being.

“I’ve found that parents who start consciously cultivating gratitude and generosity in their children quickly see how much happier and more resilient their children become,” said Carter, author of “Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents” which will be in bookstores in February 2010. “What is often surprising to parents is how much happier they themselves also become.” Read whole article

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9 Responses to “Positive Psychology: Raising Happy, Kind Children Evolutionarily Adaptive”

  1. Hi, I like your site! I will be back again.

  2. Donna Marie says:

    Hi Kathy,
    I just found a post you wrote 3 yrs ago that goes with one I just published – so I pinged back to you. I appreciate all your entries. A friend of mine has a degree in Positive Psych & is now working to bring world communities together – at least here in NYC! Wish more people in the world knew about – & applied – good parenting!

  3. Donna Marie says:

    PS: Your post was “Positive Parenting: Parents must be mirrors for their children”, 12/31/07 & mine is “ACoAs ‘Feeling sorry for’ – Positive”

  4. Wonderful, Donna Marie, that my work can connect with you and even your friend working to bring world communities together. Making a powerful circle, healing for all. Been reading Jean Shinoda Bolen, The Millionth Circle, power of women’s circles to change the work, http://www.millionthcircle.com

  5. Muriel Pillsbury says:

    Very interested in your work. You look like the same gal who arrived late to the North Mandelle first dorm meeting complaining that your deodorant hadn’t dried yet!! Saw you in MHC alumni mag. Go girl! Love, Pills

  6. Hi, Pills, I have been looking for you, girl! I’ll email you. I cab’t believe I said that if front of everyone! Well, I can. It’s me, the blurter, trying to be completely tranparent!

  7. Hi Kathy, this is really interesting. Since we moved to a more rural area with a child-friendly infrastructure, I can see how this also works the other way around; how environment influences how everyone (is able to/learns to) relate.
    We live now
    – together with many families (serial houses)
    – only little traffic and cars
    – with only small private/confined patios
    – with big natural, open, child friendly areas connecting the houses

    Children, even the small ones, feel free to meet (also) just by themselves; visit each others homes. There is much less need to control or steer.
    Outcome, compared to living in the city or enclosed, single houses: Happier parents, happier children.

  8. Fascinating post. Thank you for sharing!

    Diane Shepard

  9. Sounds like a wonderful neighborhood. My childhood was like that, all the backyards open between, everyone watching the kids, very trusting.

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