HEART-MIND 2014: The ...Science of Kindness?

By Matthew Clarke

Heart-Mind 2014: The Science of Kindness. I was already looking forward to returning to this year’s conference, as I had attended the 2013 version and loved it. But the theme of this year’s event grabbed my interest especially. There was a wonderful juxtaposition to it. Kindness is not something I immediately think of as a scientific concept. It’s something that feels better left to art or philosophy and much less at home in a laboratory.

 I actually had an ironic image jump into my head of scientists doing horrible “kindness experiments” on helpless lab rats. Like something out of an old Far Side cartoon.

After I indulged myself for a moment with a melancholy chuckle in honor of Gary Larsen, I thought to myself, “Well of course. What a perfect theme for a conference!” Why shouldn’t kindness, something that is so important to us all, something that everyone can recognize as a powerful force, something that even the slightest dose of can turn one’s whole life around, something that every great spiritual teacher in history has placed enormous emphasis on, why shouldn’t we approach such a thing from a scientific perspective? Why shouldn’t we study its effects, its causes, its potential. I think everyone can agree the world is in need of more kindness. And we live in such logical times, so ruled by reason, that in order to fully accept and implement such a seemingly abstract concept into our societies, families and selves, I think a scientific understanding is essential.

The conference was attended by a great cross section of people who are all involved with children in some way or another - teachers, parents, community workers, researchers. My attendance was as a parent. My goal was to get a read on this kindness thing and use it to answer two very important questions. 1. How do I be less of a jerk? And 2. How do I make sure my kids don’t grow up to be jerks? I feel I came away with strong tools and strategies to tackle both.

So what I’d like to do now is give you a recap of the weekend in hopes that you too might avoid a jerk-ful fate for you and your children. 

To be continued

Matthew Clarke is a Vancouver-based filmmaker, songwriter, musician, writer, father of two awesome children, and a proud out -of- league husband.  His latest short web-series, "Convos with my two year old," has become an internet sensation in it's first season and is available on YouTube .

https://www.youtube.com/user/ConvosWith2YrOld

www.mattcandthesea.com

 

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