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Everyone has periods when times are particularly tough. The loss of something or someone dear can make each day almost impossible to handle. Understanding that the people around us may also be experiencing sadness, grief, and loss can increase patience, generosity, and kindness.
When you see someone upset in public, do you stare or do you say something? Have you ever asked a stranger if everything was okay? Most of us may feel sadness or empathy for a crying stranger, but we likely wouldn’t speak up.
Perhaps this is a sign of the times, but we as a society seem reticent to interfere with situations outside of our own personal realm--if you don’t know the person, you probably won’t say anything. A research study found that only 1 in 39 patients were supported by “good Samaritans”, or bystanders, before medical personnel arrived.1 But what if we tossed this thinking and instead embraced generosity and kindness?
Neuroscience studies have examined the link between generosity and happiness using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI. It is still unknown how exactly happiness is driven by generosity in the neural network, but striatal activation is likely.2 The striatum is part of the basal ganglia and is activated in social situations by rewards.3
When we increase generosity, we increase the standards of living and happiness for those around us. While many of us like the idea of helping others, we usually only do so when it suits our reputation or improves our own situation.
The limbic brain is charged with our survival--that fight or flight instinct that served our ancestors well. But in today’s society, this instinct tends to stifle collaboration and limits our desire to show kindness and generosity. Do we really want a society where ailing strangers lie on the ground with no one to help?
Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.
Princess Diana of Wales
In this world of megacorporations, billions of dollars are controlled by only a few individuals. Employees deserve a “piece of the pie” so to speak, and not just the cast off crumbs. Leaders who usher in the Imagination Age must move away from the totalitarian we still see and instead, value generosity and support collaboration.
It doesn’t take much to create a sense of despair when you watch the news. Climate change, famine, political strife, and corporate greed are all problems our world is facing. But we have the power to make a difference, and we can start now.
Leadership that works with the brain can redefine what human survival and thriving really mean so we as humankind can take care of each other, and Earth, with generosity.
It’s never too late to incorporate generosity into your life. Giving more will increase your happiness, and you can lead by example in your organisation and your personal life. We can make this world a safer place for all, where strangers don’t have to cry on the streets, if we open our minds to generosity.
Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute
Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.
Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.
Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership
In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.
Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.
Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.