Shifting To The Lovelock Paradigm: The Evolution of Capitalism

(Cecile’s Note: James Lovelock’s work defining the idea of a self-regulating earth controlled by the community of living organisms, later known as the Gaia Hypothesis, began in the mid-1960’s. In the following we see principles of the hypothesis applied to capitalism).

The Gaia theory lights the way to a new form of capitalism. By John Elkington for the CSR Newswire

Nowadays, we use the word “paradigm” very loosely.

A reformulation of a toothpaste suddenly becomes a “paradigm shift” in dental hygiene and beauty. A slight redesign of a car gearbox becomes a “paradigm shift” in mobility. But that isn’t remotely what Thomas Kuhn meant when he spoke of paradigms in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, published 50 years ago in 1962. I read it as a teenager – and it irreversibly changed the way I view the world.

What Kuhn meant by a paradigm shift can be illustrated by the incredible emotional and political shocks that ricocheted around Europe when it was first proposed that instead of the Sun and the rest of the universe moving around a static Earth, our home planet spins around the Sun. People were burned at the stake for suggesting this. These days all of this is ho-hum: we know that our solar system is an infinitesimally small part of a galaxy which, in turn, is a tiny speck among billions of galaxies in our universe, which itself may be one of a number of universes.

But today’s emerging equivalent of that disruptive new worldview is not hard to find: it has also been evolving for half a century.

The central idea is that our capitalist economies, based on the assumption that we can consume at the rate of 3 planets-worth of natural productivity (EU average), 5 planets (US average) or even 6 planets (as I was told recently in Abu Dhabi they are headed toward), are unsustainable.

And that means either that they (we) are going to hit the wall or that we are going to develop new forms of breakthrough capitalism, that incorporate sustainability considerations into how different forms of capital (human, intellectual, social, natural) are valued, priced and managed.

A Tour of The Science Museum

All of this coursed through my mind as three of us were given a tour of London’s Science Museum recently. I’m not proud of it, but against the advice of my teachers I gave up Physics, Chemistry and Biology at school when I was 14, switching to a General Science course that meant I gained a broader, thinner sense of science. There have been many moments when I regretted that decision, but not when I started writing for the British science magazine New Scientist in the mid-1970s: in retrospect, the fact that I didn’t have a proper science background made it easier for me to bridge between scientists and ordinary readers.

Still, the depth of my relative ignorance of some key areas of science was borne in on me as we worked our way around the museum. Four objects displayed stick in my brain, three of which I could understand fairly easily. The fourth, the smallest of all, is the one I struggle to understand – and it is the one that has had the biggest impact on the chemical industry in recent decades.

British Engineer James Watt’s Original

The first object was a true wonder, the original workshop of British engineer James Watt. He was a key player in the first Industrial Revolution – and in the harnessing of the power of fossil fuels and of steam. It is an amazing experience to walk into the very space where he worked, translocated from its original site at his home after 60 years of negotiation with the Watt family. The sheer range of Watt’s creativity and innovation beggars the imagination, spanning physics, chemistry and ceramics and other novel materials.

V2 Rocket: Shifting Paradigms

The second object was simpler: a V2 rocket from the Second World War, used to bombard (and terrorise) my home city of London. Though Londoners in the 1940s came to dread the V2, it was the cutting edge of rocket design at the time – and in the postwar period powerfully influenced scientists and technologists working on the NASA space program. And from that work, ultimately, came the paradigm-altering images of Earth from outside the atmosphere, which helped power the global environmental movement.
James Lovelock’s Electron Capture Detector

James Lovelock’s Electron Capture Detector

The third object was designed by the man who also designed early tests for life on Mars, James Lovelock. His electron capture detector was probably the smallest exhibit we saw, yet the science it enabled shook the global chemical industry to its foundations – when it demonstrated how widely problem chemicals were spreading through the natural environment. Examples included DDT, PCBs and CFCs, all fairly soon abandoned.

The Gaia Theory: Shifting Our Understanding of Earth

Then Lovelock moved on to evolve his Gaia Theory, looking at Earth as an integrated system responding to human impacts rather like an organism might. That, for me, will be his most important legacy – and the implications for the future of capitalism are both poorly understood and potentially immense.[Read: Frances Moore Lappe Decodes the Gaia Theory]

The Clock of the Long Now

The fourth object we stumbled across was a complete surprise to me: I had no idea it was in the museum. It was a prototype of the Clock of the Long Now, designed to tell time not just over hours and days, but over decades, generations, centuries and millennia. Just as the work of people like Henry Ford forever undermined industries based on the use of the horse, so for me these last two objects signal core characteristics of the emerging economic paradigm. Among them: acutely greater sensitivity to environmental insults and radically longer-term timescales.

The main reason we were touring the Science Museum was to get a sense of how breakthroughs in science and technology are now exhibited. I am part of the Friends of the Lovelock Archive, which is raising funding for an exhibition of James Lovelock’s many decades of scientific research, with a view to digitizing his entire archive and making it a feature of the Science Museum’s core platform.

For me part of what makes all of this so fascinating is that I see Gaia Theory as an overarching element of the scientific, political and economic environment in which new technologies must now evolve – including genetic engineering, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, geo-engineering and artificial intelligence.

They will be shaped by – and will often help shape – what I believe we may well come to call the Lovelock (or Gaia) Paradigm.


Explosion In Free Online Classes May Change Course Of Higher Education

by NPR Staff

It’s become much cheaper and easier to offer classes online.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are teaming up in a $60 million venture to provide classes online for free. The move is the latest by top universities to expand their intellectual reach through the Internet — a trend that is changing higher education.

Last month, Stanford, Princeton, Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan announced that they were working with Coursera, a Silicon Valley startup, to put more than a dozen classes online this year in subjects ranging from computer science to public health to poetry.

Earlier this year, Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun, one of the inventors of Google’s self-driving car, announced he was leaving the school to start a company called Udacity, which would hire world-class professors from leading universities to create free online classes.

Coursera and Udacity, which are set up as for-profits, said they are committed to keeping their classes free and have each raised millions from venture capitalists.

NPR’s Steve Henn tells All Things Considered host Robert Siegel that the companies grew out of an experiment at Stanford last year that allowed anyone to take computer science classes online — and get graded — for free. The classes attracted hundreds of thousands of students from all over the world.

Wednesday’s announcement was a bit different. Harvard and MIT are creating a nonprofit called edX; the universities are investing $30 million each — significantly more than what has been raised by their West Coast for-profit competitors.

Henn says Harvard and MIT also pledged to release their software for free when it’s fully developed, as an open-source product for anyone to use.

“They’re inviting other universities to use the platform and put their own classes online for free,” he says.

For now, students can get a grade, but the schools won’t count the class toward a degree if a student wants to matriculate.

“None of these universities are offering a degree program unless you pay,” Henn says.

He says interest in online courses has exploded because it’s become much cheaper and easier to put a class online. “That has combined with using technologies in new ways to make these online classes better.”

Interactive quizzes and other tools have made it possible to deliver a class that really has value to hundreds of thousands of students, Henn says.

“In the early days of online education,” he says, “basically you had a camera in the back of a lecture hall videotaping a lecture. This is really quite different.”

The classes present an opportunity to students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to take classes — for health, money or geography reasons.

“Perhaps some day there may be people who never leave their basement,” Henn says. “I think at this point, there are many thousands more people around the world [for whom this provides] a window that opens and allows them to see a bigger, broader piece of the world than they could before.”

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Google’s Chade-Meng Tan Wants You to Search Inside Yourself for Inner (and World) Peace published 4/25/2012

Chade-Meng Tan (widely known as Meng) was among the earliest engineers to be hired at Google. He and his team worked on ways to improve the quality of the site’s search results and also played a key role in the launch of mobile search. When Google allowed engineers to spend 20% of their time pursuing their passion, Meng decided to spend his time on a cause dear to his heart: Launching a conspiracy to bring about world peace. The conspirators could well be called the compassionati.

Meng believes that world peace can be achieved — but only if people cultivate the conditions for inner peace within themselves. Inner peace, in turn, comes from nurturing emotional intelligence through the practice of mindfulness and meditation. Working with Zen masters, meditation teachers, psychologists and even a CEO, Meng created a seven-week personal growth program named — what else — Search Inside Yourself (SIY). Launched in 2007, Google has had more than 1,000 employees go through SIY with startling results. Participants rate the program at 4.7 on a five-point scale. Anecdotal feedback, among other comments, from many participants is that this program “changed my life.”

Meng then decided to open-source the SIY program by making its principles and components available to companies everywhere. He has written a book titled, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace), which is being published this month. Meng spoke with Knowledge@Wharton about the SIY program, why emotional intelligence matters, and other lessons he has learned during the past five years as Google’s Jolly Good Fellow (which, seriously, is his job title).

The first part of the edited transcript of the conversation appears below. To read the rest of the interview, check out part two, How Emotional Intelligence Can Help Resolve Conflicts and Build Tough, Kind Leaders, and part three, How Emotional Intelligence Helps the Bottom Line.

Knowledge@Wharton: What is Search Inside Yourself, and what inspired you to launch the program at Google? What was the spark?

Meng: Search Inside Yourself (SIY) is a curriculum for emotional intelligence based on mindfulness. We wanted to create a curriculum that works for adults. We had this epiphany that you cannot learn emotional intelligence by just reading a book alone; more work is involved.

Three steps are involved in developing emotional intelligence in the SIY framework. The first is to train attention in a way that allows you to make your mind calm and clear on demand. At any time, whatever is happening to you — whether you’re under stress, you’re being shouted at, or anything else — you have the skill to bring the mind to a place that’s calm and clear. If you can do that, it lays the foundation for emotional intelligence. Step two is creating self-mastery. Once your mind is calm and clear, you can create a quality of self-knowledge or self-awareness that improves over time and it evolves into self-mastery. You know about yourself enough that you can master your emotions. The third step is to develop good mental habits. For example, there is the mental habit of kindness, of looking at every human being you encounter and thinking to yourself, “I want this person to be happy.” Once that becomes a habit, you don’t have to think about it, it just comes naturally.
Then everything in your work life changes because people want to associate with you and they like you. It operates on the subconscious level. Those are the skills that SIY is designed to develop.

The spark behind creating SIY was my desire for world peace. I have been a long-time engineer at Google. We can spend 20% of our time working on whatever we want. I figured, I might as well try to solve the toughest problem I know, which is bringing about world peace. I started thinking about the necessary and sufficient conditions for world peace and one thought led to another. I came to the conclusion that a very important condition for world peace is to create conditions for inner peace, inner happiness and compassion on a global scale. The way I want to do that is to make those qualities profitable for businesses and to help people succeed. If we have a program that helps people and companies become successful and the side-effect of that is world peace, then we will have world peace. Eventually, that idea became a curriculum for emotional intelligence because emotional intelligence can help people succeed. It’s good for the company’s bottom line, and if we teach it the right way, then the side effect is world peace.

Knowledge@Wharton: How did you make the connection between mindfulness, compassion and emotional intelligence?

Meng: As I said earlier, the foundation of emotional intelligence is attention training, which allows you to be calm and clear on demand. The way to train your mind to do that is called mindfulness, which is defined as paying attention moment to moment non-judgmentally. It creates a quality of mind in which, neurologically, you move from the brain’s narrative circuits to the direct experience circuits. The part of the brain that keeps going nah nah nah nah nah just quiets down; you go to another part that relates to experiencing sensations, perceptions, mental formations of thoughts and so on.

The thing about mindfulness is that everybody knows how to do it. We all already experience it. It’s simple: From moment to moment you pay non-judgmental attention to what is going on. Then we can make it deeper. With enough practice, we can concentrate our mind at a very high power, with high intensity, on demand. That ability alone is very useful in life. But in addition to its intrinsic usefulness, mindfulness also creates the foundation for emotional intelligence.

Compassion is at the other end of this pipeline. It is a component, but it’s also a result of emotional intelligence. If you tease out the components of emotional intelligence, you’ll find that there are five domains as defined by Daniel Goleman [author of the 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ], which I found very useful. The first three domains are intrapersonal intelligence, which is intelligence about yourself. These are self-awareness, self-regulation and motivation. The other two domains involve inter-personal intelligence, or intelligence about other people. These are empathy and social skills. Compassion is integral to the last two domains. In a way, compassion involves training your mind to develop empathy, but at the same time, is also the output, it’s the beneficiary of training social skills. That’s the relationship between compassion and emotional intelligence.

Knowledge@Wharton: Why does emotional intelligence matter?

Meng: It’s important for at least three reasons or aspects. The first is work effectiveness. People with high emotional intelligence are far more effective at work. Some of this is obvious. For example, take people who deal with customers. In their case, the more emotional intelligence they have, the better they can work with customers and the more they can sell.

But there are also aspects that are less obvious. For example, emotional intelligence affects the work effectiveness even of engineers. Among the top six characteristics that distinguish top engineers from average engineers, only two are cognitive; four have to do with emotional competencies. The six characteristics are: a strong achievement drive; the ability to influence others; conceptual thinking; analytical ability; initiative and self-confidence. Of these, only conceptual thinking and analytical ability are cognitive. The rest are emotional abilities. So, emotional intelligence is very important even for engineers.

Interestingly, emotional intelligence is important for innovation. For example, there is a recent study that shows if you’re happy today, you’re more creative today and tomorrow, regardless of how you feel tomorrow. So happiness has a two-day effect…and there are neurological explanations for this. An emotional skill like happiness has an effect on work, on creativity. All this is the first aspect involving work effectiveness.

The second aspect is leadership. Everybody knows that emotionally intelligent people make better leaders. We know that from our day-to-day experience dealing with managers. What I found surprising is that this is true even in the Navy. A paper came out in the late 1980s that dealt with what makes naval units effective. It had very objective, quantitative measures for effectiveness. The research showed that the best naval commanders are people who are nice and warm. I have a quote here about naval commanders that the study found were most effective. They were “more positive and outgoing, emotionally expressive and dramatic, warmer and more sociable (including smiling more), friendlier and more democratic, more cooperative, more likeable and fun to be with, more appreciative and trustful, and even gentler than those who were merely average.” In other words, the best naval commanders are nice guys — people we want to hang out with. Oh, by the way, the title of the paper is ‘Nice Guys Finish First.’

The third aspect is happiness. Emotional intelligence creates the conditions for happiness. To me, that is the most important part because I want to create happiness worldwide.

Knowledge@Wharton: How did you structure the curriculum to nurture emotional intelligence among your colleagues?

Meng: When we started working on this, emotional intelligence was an unsolved problem. How do we train people to develop emotional intelligence? I didn’t know, nobody knew. I’m an engineer…what do I know? So the fallback was to do what Google always does to solve big problems that we don’t know how to solve. We get the smartest, the best people in the world in that domain, we put them in a room and we figure it out. Then we launch it on an unsuspecting audience, and assess what went wrong and then re-iterate. It’s a process we call launch and re-iterate. That is what we did with the SIY program.

I have a friend, Mirabai Bush, who was the person who brought mindfulness into companies like Monsanto. Another friend, Norman Fischer, is America’s top Zen master. Yet another friend, Daniel Goleman, who literally wrote the book on emotional intelligence, also helped. I got these people into a room with a few other people I know, including Marc Lesser, CEO of ZBA Associates, a management consulting and coaching firm. It almost sounds like a joke: “A CEO and a Zen master walked into a room…” We got everyone together and we figured it out.

Knowledge@Wharton: What tools and techniques did you use to teach emotional intelligence in your curriculum? Which ones worked best and why?

Meng: If you want a strong curriculum for emotional intelligence, it is important to base it on neuroscience and data. It’s important not to be fluffy; if you’re fluffy, you lose people. For example, if everybody sits around in a circle, talking about emotions and bringing awareness to their breathing, half the people will leave, especially the engineers. They’ll say, “Screw it.” So you have to show the science behind emotional intelligence. Fortunately, good science does exist on this issue.

Through brain scans, for example, we know that if you focus attention on breathing for a certain amount of time, your prefrontal cortex becomes stronger. That is the part of the brain that has to do with attention and executive thinking and decision making. Your prefrontal cortex also regulates the amygdala. The stronger you are in this part of your brain, the more you can regulate anger and feelings of powerlessness. Meditation and mindfulness develop this part of the brain.

There’s a practice called body scan, where you focus your attention on parts of your body. Again, there’s science behind it. If you do that a lot, you find that the part of the brain called the insula becomes more active. If that part of the brain becomes active, the person becomes emotionally self-aware. There’s brain science behind all of this.

Knowledge@Wharton: How has the SIY program evolved? What were some of your challenges and how did you deal with them? What lessons did that experience teach you?

Meng: SIY started as a meditation program. The reason was it was started, basically, by Norman Fischer and Mirabai Bush and they are deep meditators. In the beginning, it was mostly meditation and wisdom from Norman and Mirabai. But it didn’t scale beyond Norman and Mirabai because it depended on them being there. Over time, we had to do a few things. First, we had to formalize the content. Also, just meditation and wisdom is not enough. We had to add a lot of the science we just talked about. We invited Phillippe Goldin, a neuroscientist from Stanford University, to join the program.

Then I started learning the business applications. How does this apply to business and our day-to-day work lives? Mirabai already had a lot of business experience because she was an entrepreneur in the old days. We added a lot of business content. That’s how it evolved. It evolved from a meditation program into a program on emotional intelligence full of science and business apps.

The biggest challenge, as I said earlier, was expanding the circle to include the most skeptical people. If you advertise a class on mindfulness-based emotional intelligence, the people you are going to attract are the most obvious. These are the people who do yoga classes, who sit at a local Zen center, but you don’t want to reach just these people…you want to go beyond that. Then there are people who are open to anything or the people who have read about Zen when they were in their 20s, so they’re open to trying it. But I wanted to go beyond even that. The people I wanted to reach were those who might look at the course description and say, “This is all hippie bullshit.” I wanted those people. That was my biggest challenge.

How could I reach those people? I had a couple of things in my favor. I have credibility in the Google world because I have been a successful engineer for many years. So, even for those people who call this hippie bullshit, they say, “Well, there’s Meng and there’s this hippie bullshit crap.” At least they are curious enough to ask, why is Meng teaching this crap? Once I get their attention, I can show them the science, the practices and the data. My biggest challenge was reaching those people and I think I have been very successful. Some 1,000 people have gone through the SIY program and a fairly large percentage of them started very skeptical, which is good, because that was the audience I wanted.

I have learned some important lessons. The science is important and the language is important if you don’t want to lose people. In addition, I discovered that you have to tell people why they are doing the practice. It’s not good enough to say, “Let’s create a loving, kind perspective.” They will call that hippie bullshit. You have to explain why you do that: Because if you do that, then you’re creating the mental habit for kindness. And if you do that a lot, then it becomes an instinctive habit. When you look at any human being, you say, “I want this person to be happy” and that changes behavior. Once you explain that in terms of creating mental habits then they get it, then they will do the practice and then they’ll benefit. So, explaining the outcome is very important.

Knowledge@Wharton: What anecdotal evidence have you found to show whether the SIY program is working? And as an engineer, how did you quantify the program’s effectiveness?

Meng: We obtain anonymous feedback every time we run a class. A lot of it is qualitative. But when we ask people what the class has meant to them, the feedback we get — and some people have used these exact words — is that “This course has changed my life.” To me this is mind-blowing. I mean, imagine coming to work on a Monday morning and you take a class and it changes your life! This happens a lot. I have a lot of students whose lives have been changed. Sometimes they use different words. “I see myself and the world entirely differently.” “Now I see myself in kindness.” “I feel a new me. I’m a different person.” A few have told me in person that they got promotions after SIY and that they would have never gotten promoted if not for what they learned at SIY. There are also a few who said they wanted to leave Google and then they took SIY and it changed their minds. So, there’s been a retention benefit, in addition to promotions. That’s the kind of qualitative feedback I get — that’s basically the anecdotal evidence.

Quantitatively, I’m an engineer, so the feedback doesn’t work unless it’s quantitative. We have two main sets of data. One is satisfaction surveys. On a scale of one to five, we ask participants to rate the usefulness of and satisfaction with what they have learned. For satisfaction surveys, the score has been very high. It has been 4.7 or 5 out of 5, which is not bad. I can imagine worse, especially for a seven-week class, where people come in thinking it’s hippie bullshit and when they leave the class they rank it 4.7 out of 5 — it’s not bad.

We also have psychometric measures. For example, we have first-person survey measures of things like empathy, self-rumination — which means how often they keep thinking the same thought over and over. We also look at self-perceived stress, self-criticism and things like that — it’s standard stuff. For the psychometric measures, again, the feedback is anonymous, but when we aggregate the results, we have found statistically, significantly, they’re improving in every dimension, every measure.

We don’t yet measure, unfortunately — some things we really would like to measure. I want to create a scientific study with controlled conditions on how this course has affected qualities that are directly meaningful to work. For example, we could create an experiment where you get half the people to take SIY and half to go to the gym and then five or six months later, see how many of them meet their sales quotas. That can only be done in a controlled environment with random assignment and so on. We haven’t done that yet.


Bazaars, Conversations and Freedom For a Market Culture Beyond Greed and Fear

Rajni Bakshi. With a Foreword by John Elkington
A rare and epic narrative about those who have been quietly forging solutions and demonstrating that a more compassionate market culture is both possible and desirable.

Long before the financial meltdown and the red alert on climate change, some far-sighted innovators diagnosed the fatal flaws in an economic system driven by greed and fear. Across the global North and South, diverse people – financial wizards, economists, business people and social activists – have been challenging the ‘free market’ orthodoxy. They seek to recover the virtues of bazaars from the tyranny of a market model that emerged about two centuries ago. This widely praised book is a chronicle of their achievements.

From Wall Street icon George Soros and VISA card designer Dee Hock we get an insider critique of the malaise. Creators of community currencies and others, like the father of microfinance, Bangladesh’s Muhammad Yunus, explore how money can work differently. The doctrine of self-interest is re-examined by looking more closely at Adam Smith through the eyes of Amartya Sen. Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of ‘Trusteeship’ gathers strength as the socially responsible investing phenomenon challenges the power of capital. Pioneers of the open source and free software movement thrive on cooperation to drive innovation. The Dalai Lama and Ela Bhatt demonstrate that it is possible to compete compassionately and to nurture a more mindful market culture.

This sweeping narrative takes you from the ancient Greek Agora, Indian choupal, and Native American gift culture, on to present-day Wall Street to illuminate ideas, subversive and prudent, about how the market can serve society rather than being its master. In a world exhausted by dogma, Bazaars, Conversations and Freedom is an open quest for possible futures.

This fully updated and revised UK version of the 2009 Vodafone Crossword Book Award winner for non-fiction is a rare and epic narrative about those who have been quietly forging solutions and demonstrating that a more compassionate market culture is both possible and desirable.
Available through Greenleaf Publishing to customers in the UK only.

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How the Power of Positive Thinking Won Scientific Credibility

By Hans Villarica

Psychologist Michael F. Scheier reflects on his groundbreaking 1985 research, which provided the scientific framework for exploring the real power of optimism.

In just the last year, hundreds of academic papers have been published studying the health effects of expecting good things to happen, which researchers call “dispositional optimism.” They’ve linked this positive outlook on life to everything from decreased feelings of loneliness to increased pain tolerance.

Oddly enough, three decades ago, the outlook for research on optimism didn’t look very good. But then, in 1985, Michael F. Scheier and Charles S. Carver’s published their seminal study, “Optimism, Coping, and Health: Assessment and Implications of Generalized Outcome Expectancies” in Health Psychology. Researchers immediately embraced the simple hopefulness test they included in the paper and their work has now been cited in at least 3,145 other published works. Just as importantly, by testing the effect of a personality variable on a person’s physical health, Scheier and Carver helped bridge the gap between the worlds of psychology and biology. After the paper, scientists had a method for seriously studying the healing powers of positive thinking.

In the Q&A below, Scheier reflects on his influential work with Carver and shares how their humble study on human motivation ultimately inspired countless studies on mind-body interactions. He also assesses why their optimism scale was an instant hit in the scientific community, how their findings have been adapted by other researchers, and the future of our understanding of hope and well-being.

How did the research come about?

Chuck Carver from the University of Miami and I were doing research on human motivation. We were trying to understand how to think about goal-directed behavior, and expectancies were an important part of our approach. The idea was, and still is, that when people encounter difficulties doing what it is that they intend to do, some sort of mental calculation takes place that results in the generation of an outcome expectancy — the person’s subjective assessment of the likelihood that he or she will succeed. We thought these expectancies played a role in the nature of the affect that was experienced and the person’s subsequent behavior.

Initially, we considered outcome expectancies in a very circumscribed way. We focused on specific situations manipulated in controlled experimental contexts to validate our ideas. For example, we studied snake phobics who approached a boa constrictor in a cage. We weren’t interested in snakes or phobias per se but in how these expectations drove behaviors.

At some point in the early 1980s, things changed. A number of our colleagues in health psychology — my wife, Karen Matthews, included — urged or maybe even challenged us to consider applying some of our ideas to real-world settings, particularly those that might be relevant to well-being. Our formal area of study in graduate school was also personality, and I started to hear the voice of my advisor, Arnie Buss, in my head gently pushing us to do what it was that we had been trained to do.

This confluence of events started us thinking about expectancies in a broader way that might be more reflective of stable expectancies for positive or negative things to occur. And voila! We found ourselves interested in dispositional optimism, which we define as the general expectation that good, versus bad, things will happen across important life domains.

What were your goals? Was there a research gap you were hoping to fill back then?

Once we knew what we wanted to study, we looked around the literature to see if there was a scale that assessed dispositional optimism that was consistent with how we viewed the construct. We couldn’t find anything that was right on the mark, so we set out to make our own measure for dispositional optimism using a self-report questionnaire (PDF of updated version). Along with that came the job of establishing the statistical characteristics, or psychometric properties, of the scale. This became part of the purpose of our original paper too.

We also wanted to show that differences in optimism and pessimism predicted some health-relevant outcomes, so we explored the development of physical symptoms reported among a group of undergraduates during a particularly stressful portion of the academic semester. We were fortunate to get the paper published in a journal, Health Psychology, that enabled a lot of researchers to become familiar with the scale, findings, and ideas.

“We know why optimists do better than pessimists,” says Scheier. “Optimists are not simply being Pollyannas; they’re problem solvers who try to improve the situation.”

I think one reason the work was picked up so much is that we provided a tool that enabled scientists to ask their own questions and do their own research in the area. Prior to the publication of our scale, there were well-known testimonials on “the power of positive thinking,” but there was no simple way to verify if the testimonials were correct. I think it also helped that our scale was easy to use and score. It only has six items on it! The brevity enabled lots of people to include it in their work, even if that involved very large epidemiological studies where issues of respondent burden and time limitations are paramount. As a result, an enormous amount of research on optimism has been generated over the years.

How far has our understanding of optimism come since?

A lot of research has been done since we published our first paper, and the vast majority has examined the relationship of optimism and well-being. I think it’s now safe to say that optimism is clearly associated with better psychological health, as seen through lower levels of depressed mood, anxiety, and general distress, when facing difficult life circumstances, including situations involving recovery from illness and disease. A smaller, but still substantial, amount of research has studied associations with physical well-being. And I think most researchers at this point would agree that optimism is connected to positive physical health outcomes, including decreases in the likelihood of re-hospitalization following surgery, the risk of developing heart disease, and mortality.

We also know why optimists do better than pessimists. The answer lies in the differences between the coping strategies they use. Optimists are not simply being Pollyannas; they’re problem solvers who try to improve the situation. And if it can’t be altered, they’re also more likely than pessimists to accept that reality and move on. Physically, they’re more likely to engage in behaviors that help protect against disease and promote recovery from illness. They’re less likely to smoke, drink, and have poor diets, and more likely to exercise, sleep well, and adhere to rehab programs. Pessimists, on the other hand, tend to deny, avoid, and distort the problems they confront, and dwell on their negative feelings. It’s easy to see now why pessimists don’t do so well compared to optimists.

What don’t we know still?

Two things. First, how do optimism and pessimism develop? We know from studies with twins that dispositional optimism is heritable, although the specific genes that underlie the differences in personality have yet to be identified. It’s also likely that parenting styles and early childhood environment play a role. For example, research has shown that children who grow up in impoverished families have a tendency toward pessimism in adulthood. Still, the specifics have not been delineated.

The other missing link has to do with how to construe optimism and pessimism. I’ve been describing them as though they are opposite ends of a continuum, and this may not be the case. Optimism and pessimism may represent related, but somewhat distinct dimensions. This possibility is suggested by the fact that not expecting bad things to happen, doesn’t necessarily imply that the person expects good things to happen. The fact that they’re somewhat separable leads to the question of what is important for the beneficial health outcomes we see: the absence of pessimism or the presence of optimism?

What have been some surprising reactions to your research?

Three reactions are noteworthy. One comes from the research community, the second from the media, and the third from patients.

For whatever reason, there has been a group of researchers who have been very skeptical of the findings. The work has been criticized because it’s not really optimism and pessimism that drive results, but rather characteristics that are related to optimism, such as the depressed mood that comes along with a pessimistic orientation. Others have found fault with individual studies or large scale reviews that have been done. Much of this criticism is part of the healthy process of science, being dubious and wanting further verification, but some of the skepticism seems to go beyond that. It’s never been clear to me why this has been the case.

As for the media, they seem to love the work. Whenever a major study gets published showing the benefits of optimism on health, the findings are picked up quickly and get widely distributed. Part of this is prompted, I think, by folklore that surrounds the concepts of optimism and pessimism. I think that people are intrigued that these caricatures have some basis in fact. Whatever the reason, our findings are quick to make their way to the public.

But perhaps what’s most salient to me is the reaction that some patients have expressed about their recovery. They have told me that they feel guilty. They read that optimism is associated with better health among patients recovering from illness, and they think, “If only I would be more optimistic, I’d do better.” Yet, they can’t put themselves in that frame of mind. Family members may chastise them too for not promoting their recovery by simply expecting good things to happen. Perhaps it was naïve not to have imagined these reactions. Regardless, it is troubling that they have occurred.

How has this study affected your life?

My guess is that, if you asked the research community what I’m known for, they’d say the work that I’ve done on optimism and pessimism. I’ve spent the better part of my professional life studying optimism and it’s effect on psychological and physical well-being. So if I’m known for something, it might as well be that. Still, the salience of this work has distracted people from other work that I’ve done that I think is equally interesting, including some of the ideas we’ve expressed about why people experience emotion.

I also spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out if I’m more optimistic or pessimistic, or how my wife and kids are. I’m guessing that I’m somewhere in the middle, which puts me in some sort of expectational limbo. On the other hand, maybe that view provides the detachment that is necessary to allow a researcher to approach work in an objective way.

Ultimately, I find it very gratifying that a large number of colleagues in the field have found the work valuable enough to incorporate into their own work. Collectively, we’ve been able to document that links between optimism and physical health do exist.

Apr 23 2012, 1:55 PM ET 19


Study finds faith key to aging positively

Psychologist to lead workshop in Sylvania BY DAVID YONKE BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Why do some 94-year-olds seem to possess an eternal vitality, while others half their age act like the walking dead?

That question spurred Richard Johnson, a psychologist, author, and pioneer in spiritual gerontology, to undertake a four-year research project that found 50 factors distinguishing positive from negative aging.

Boiling it all down, he said, the main difference is faith.

“I was trying to look at this from a behavioral scientist viewpoint and not looking for a spiritual spin, but that’s what certainly came out of this,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview this week from St. Louis. “If there’s any distinguishing thread between a 49-year-old who seems old and a 94-year-old who seems young, it’s the spiritual spin.”

Mr. Johnson will be in Sylvania Wednesday to discuss the spiritual aspects of aging in a workshop titled “Finding God in the Later Years.”

“The later years are essentially a spiritual journey,” he said. “Certainly there are physical aspects to it, emotional aspects to it, psychological aspects to it, which all have to be attended to. But if that spiritual component is missing, then aging becomes really a very dismal thing. Because all we are looking at is the demise of the body.”

Mr. Johnson, 65, who has a doctorate in psychology from the University of Florida, said he found a sociology textbook from the 1980s that offers this shockingly bleak definition of aging: “a senseless slipping into nothingness.”

Without faith, that definition is all too accurate, he said. Research has been unable to find a reason why people age, so it can be considered senseless, he said, and physically, as people age they “slip down a rocky slope that sometimes gets more than slippery.” The final step, death, can translate into “nothingness” if there’s no spiritual hope, he said.

Yet in light of the fact that most surveys show that 96 percent of Americans profess some form of faith, Mr. Johnson said his goal is to help people apply their spirituality to achieve “optimal aging.”

“What we’re trying to do is accent the centrality of one’s faith in the whole wellness mix,” he said.

And it’s not just faith in the broad sense that makes an impact, but it hinges on whether people have extrinsic or intrinsic faith, Mr. Johnson said. Extrinsic faith is simply going to a house of worship and “going through the motions” to do what is expected. Intrinsic faith, on the other hand, is a determining factor in a person’s every thought and deed.

Some things that have a positive impact on someone’s outlook on life are not necessarily spiritual, Mr. Johnson said, but are often found in spirituality and religion.

“Giving to others came up as a big one,” he said. “Offering oneself to others. You can look at a lot of psychological research and see that helping other people is one of the best ways of helping yourself.”

Other traits that lead to aging well include being malleable, flexible, adaptable, and forgiving.

“Letting go of grudges is a big one,” Mr. Johnson said, citing an old maxim that “holding a grudge is like drinking a glass of poison and thinking that the other guy’s going to die.”

But the single-biggest element to aging well is changing one’s attitude, he said.

In researching aging and attitude, he said he was surprised at the importance of “being able to grow in the face of loss.”

People are inclined to try to avoid loss, he said, and “we do everything we can to get away from it.”

But loss is a big part of life, and adapting to loss can lead to personal growth. It may seem paradoxical, but “we only grow when we lose,” Mr. Johnson said, citing research by author Judith Viorst.

In other words, he said, it’s better to accept and be challenged by loss than to feel threatened and adopt an overall defensive posture in life.

“How are you believing? How are you perceiving? What data are you focusing on? It’s very clear that pessimists don’t age well.

“They may live years, but their life satisfaction — the psychologists’ code for ‘happiness’ — is low. They become the curmudgeons, the crotchety old men.

“The happiest person alive is the one who knows how to extend enabling feelings and to extinguish negative feelings. Aging is hard work. Aging is not for sissies,” Mr. Johnson said.


NPR: From Silicon Valley, A New Approach To Education

(Cecile’s Blog note: What a brave, bold approach to creating access for learning.)

by Steve Henn for NPR–Last year when Andrew Ng, a computer science professor at Stanford University, put his machine-learning class online and opened enrollment to the world, more than 100,000 students signed up.

“I think all of us were surprised,” he says.

Ng had posted lectures online before, but this class was different.

“This was actually a class where you can participate as a student and get homework and assessments,” he said.

The class was interactive. There were quizzes and online forums where teaching assistants, fellow students and Ng answered questions. In the end, tens of thousands of students did all the same work and took the same tests that Stanford students took; thousands passed.

“Stanford has always been a place where we were not afraid to try bold new things, often without knowing exactly what the consequences were going to be,” said Jim Plummer, the dean of engineering. “And this is an instance of that.”

Now Ng and Daphne Koller, a Stanford colleague, are launching a company called Coursera to bring more classes from elite universities to students around the world for free online.

“By providing what is a truly high-quality educational experience to so many students for free, I think we can really change many, many people’s lives,” Koller says.

Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan will join Stanford. Two Venture capitalists are investing more than $15 million in the company.

Koller says she believes online classes could bring university classes to millions of people who are now effectively cut off.

But to do this, these classes have to be effective at teaching more than just computer science. How will they teach hundreds of thousands of students to write?

“You’ve asked the right question,” asks Al Filreis, a poetry professor at the University of Pennsylvania, “which is: You are really going to try to do a poetry course?”

They are. In fact, Filreis is the guy they have roped into doing just that. He will teach modern and contemporary American poetry online for free starting in the fall. He says he knows he’s not going to be able to grade thousands of essays.

But “I am really, really game and open to other ways of understanding whether people are getting it because my university has decided to let me free,” he says.

Filreis isn’t looking for correct answers. He wants people to think about the poems he’s teaching and engage one another.

“Poetry is really good in this setting because you can read it alone and get so much out of it, and be perfectly fine with it, but the next step was [to] hang out with some intuitively smart people and collectively — together, collaboratively — let’s read the poem together,” he says.

In his class this fall, Filreis will discuss poetry with a small group of students while potentially thousands make comments online. Coursera is building a system like Yelp that will let these students value each others comments; the most valued and respected will rise to the top.

Will all this work? Is this a way to teach poetry or anything else? Filreis isn’t sure, but he’s excited to give it a try. And it’s possible this fall he could reach more students with poetry than he has in his entire career.


2012 Conference: Corporate citizenship professionals urged to be ‘indispensable connectors’

By Tim Wilson, Editor & Writer, Boston College Center

In reflecting on the theme of the 2012 International Corporate Citizenship Conference, Corporate Citizenship: Managing Many Environments, Katherine V. Smith, executive director of the Center for Corporate Citizenship, advised conference attendees that the business, social and economic environments will continue to present opportunities for rethinking the role of business in society.

Smith noted that professionals must manage strategic, operational and personal environments by mastering knowledge, context, and structure. The Center, she explained, wants to assist professionals in confronting and navigating these volatile environments by helping them acquire knowledge about practices, issues, and operational context.

Offering a closer look at the business environment, Smith presented results from a meta-analysis of 214 studies seeking to understand how environmental or social corporate citizenship investments affect the financial performance of a company. Examining nine different effects that could be measured, one finding of the analysis was that corporate citizenship investments haven’t been shown to hurt firm performance and there may be positive benefits to some types of investments.

“It looks like if you ask the question: Does it pay to be good? It does, probably. It doesn’t hurt, for sure,” Smith remarked. “I think this is a really important study for us to be familiar with. It’s thousands of data points over 30 years and it strongly supports the importance of the work that you all do.”

Smith also revealed early findings from the Center’s 2012 State of Corporate Citizenship study. This biennial signature research looks at the executive perspective on the role that corporate citizenship can and should play in society and in their companies. As part of that research, the Center tracked a question that parallels the Nielsen Global Socially Conscious Consumer study and compared responses when 1,000 U.S. consumers and 750 U.S. executives were asked what issues business should be involved in solving.

“What we learned is that there is substantial agreement among executives and consumers about business involvement in a handful of issues,” Smith said. “There were also areas where significant gaps emerged.” She pointed out that the surveys found corporate executives more concerned about equity issues related to workforce readiness than U.S. consumers. The surveys showed consumers were more concerned with basic human needs such as food and access to water.

Understanding these gaps is important, Smith said, to better align companies’ corporate citizenship investments with their consumers’ interests.

Turning her focus to the operational context that those assembled operate in every day, Smith presented an analysis of the words most commonly used by 285 corporate citizenship professionals when asked to share their companies’ greatest challenges. From those words themes emerged and in looking at how they connected, four primary areas of concern were revealed:

Global strategy and operational integration
Employee engagement and community involvement
Measuring: Outputs and impacts
Communicating corporate citizenship

Further analysis looked at the combination of operational and strategic forces, such as environment and society, that make up the macro context in which corporate citizenship professionals work.

“Context is central to your job description,” Smith stressed. “You are uniquely qualified to provide perspective and add value just by helping your company to understand the macro context. This is the value that you really bring to all of your companies. It’s your primary area of expertise. You’re the one that will understand communities whether geographic or affinity-based. You’ll understand environmental impacts and you’ll understand emerging social issues because you’re interacting at the intersections of your firm and these forces.”

Smith added that the opportunity and the challenge for corporate citizenship professionals is to be able to respond in a context where the landscape is changing continually. “There are no real maps. You are going to have to be trailblazers. You’re forging new paths and connections all the time.”

What makes these challenges even more significant, Smith explained, is that professionals are facing them in a corporate organizational structure that does not match the networks they work in. While many corporate structures operate as linked verticals, corporate citizenship professionals must create networks that span many boundaries to create a more networked structure.

“You probably can’t affect the structure of your organization,” Smith remarked. “But you can organize or structure your work. So we have to structure our work so that our responses are appropriate for our context, purpose, and competencies.” Some contexts will lend themselves more to looser and more robust networks, she added, and some will demand tighter networks that allow for more command and control.

“The key thing to remember is that you are the indispensable connector in the leadership network of your firm and you can lead from any seat.”


Quantum Thinking

BF: How do you come to develop this revolutionary new way of thinking that you call QuantumThink?

DC: I’ve always been one of the young mavericks who looks at the world, sees the absurdities, and wants to make things better. At 15 I realized I was living in a world where people willfully manufactured weapons to deliberately kill other people and that everyone seemed to think this was all okay – I thought – there has to be another way of creating this world. I studied everything from physics to metaphysics. My dream was to create a TV series that entertained and enlightened as you watch. Then my husband, Alan Collins, who is a masterful coach needed a structure to work with people. I applied my own insights along with science and spiritual wisdom and created programs we presented in business and to the public and they worked. I wasn’t just showing people “how-to” think and live from a more expansive and more accurate view of reality – through my work they actually lived it. In 1997 I trademarked the name QuantumThink®.

BF: What are the essential principles of QuantumThinking?

DC: The essential principle is that life is creative and we’re the ones creating it all the time according to our intent and our habits of thinking. Some say “Thinking creates reality” is new age hokum however it is scientific fact and is taught by great spiritual traditions. Until you understand how our own minds work to create our outcomes in life – you really have little command over anything. If thinking creates reality, the next question is: What creates your thinking? That’s where QuantumThink comes in. The critical principle is that our thinking is not “free” but is conditioned by the world view, what we believe to be true about reality. We’re in a quantum age, yet our thinking is a relic of 17th century science, proved to be largely inaccurate. When you QuantumThink you think from accurate and current principles like multidimensionality, holism, and energy. You learn to master your mind. When you master your mind, you master your life.

BF: You emphasize we need to move from old world thinking to the new world. Please explain what old world thinking is.

DC: Old world thinking is shaped by a limited 17th century world view that gave us the Industrial Age – the world as machine. It’s a mechanical world and in many ways we have become automatic and mechanical too – in our beliefs, in the way we approach problems, and in our relationships. The old world view doesn’t understand the relationship between mind and matter because it declared only “matter” as real. The world as matter “tells” us objects are solid, we are separate, time moves in one direction, and we have to manage results through cause and effect physical actions. Circumstances are fixed – “the way it is” and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s trained us to see differences as antagonisms in an “either/or” world: liberal or conservative, black or white, right or wrong, your way or mine.

Fortunately, that is not the way nature actually is. We live in a universe of multi-dimensions, energy in flux, interconnected whole systems – a malleable world where mind is the creative factor. QuantumThink puts you in sync with these natural laws so you’re more effective.

BF: So, what’s new world thinking?

DC: New world view thinking is based in the quantum view of reality – a holistic, multidimensional model of the universe as energy-in-flux – unpredictable, uncertain, nonmaterial at its source and therefore, quite malleable – able to be shaped and shifted according to the Intent of the conscious observer, meaning us. It means you know you are the one shaping your experience – of your relationships, of the way you view the world, of what you are capable of accomplishing. It means Living Fully Dimensionally – knowledgeable about energy, spirit, mind, and universal laws and how they work to produce the physical. It’s knowing the power of Intent and the practical use of Intuition. It’s being able to think from Infinite Possibility. QuantumThinking means getting hip to an expanded and more accurate view of reality so it works in your everyday life.

BF: How have you seen people change dramatically after having been initiated into the teachings of QuantumThinking?

DC: The biggest thing that happens for everyone is time seems to slow down and they get peaceful, centered, focused no matter how much activity they have going on in their business and personal lives. Things happen naturally without pushing and forcing. People accomplish what they always wanted to but could never see how. Teenagers talk to their parents in deeper conversations than “yes-no-fine” monosyllables. Kids put on their pajamas and go to bed without being asked. Marriages on the edge come together, and relationships end that needed to years ago. People regain their sense of self, confidence, and personal power. Fear and doubt may arise but they’re not run by those things because they know the power of their own Intent.

In business people think beyond either/or options. Corporate politics and power plays vanish. People respect and honor what each one uniquely brings. It’s a whole different reality and business results soar.

BF: How do we go from seeing things as either/or to both/and?

DC: The first thing is to be aware of the fundamentals of a quantum reality – there are no absolutes. Just because you have a thought or you did something a certain way last time doesn’t make it “the truth.” Life is multidimensional. Life is infinite possibility. Life is energy in flux – always moving and changing – and we are the ones shaping it according to the way we observe it. The second thing is to become aware of and catch yourself in the automatic either/or mechanisms in the moment they happen – pause – and realize you are not stuck with either/or options. Both/And comes from the fact that energy is both a particle and a wave – and it is both at the same time. Even when things appear “contradictory” on the surface, they both have validity and others do as well. When the either/or mechanism shows up, ask yourself in that very moment: What else is possible?

BF: Do many of us fail to live consciously? Why?

DC: None of us like to think we aren’t living consciously – in fact most of us are convinced that we do. Yet until you are aware of all the ways you habitually think about things, automatically do things, instantly react to things, you really aren’t in a state of what we consider to be true “choice.” We’ve all been influenced by a mechanical world view. Think of a machine. Once you set it up to work it just runs automatically. There is no conscious awareness necessary – unless something goes wrong, that is. When things go wrong – when someone becomes ill, when a natural disaster hits, when injustice is inflicted – that’s when people are forced by the circumstances to wake up and we start living a little bit more consciously. But after the alarm goes off we fall back to sleep. However, we can wake up deliberately, proactively on our own. It’s time now.

BF: You emphasize we exist in an observer-created reality. But if we each experience life differently, are we living in a world of many realities?

DC: A great sage says “We each live in our own world according to our own concepts.” This is one of the great paradoxes of life – we each experience life in our own individual way and at the same time we live in and share a collective mind that keeps in place the outer events and institutions we agree upon called consensus reality. Your experience of the outer world of circumstances – your husband, your teacher, your friend, the USA president – is created by what you individually bring to your Observation, and your intent shapes the collective future of how it will go. Since form follows thought, as more individuals learn to use natural principles of creating and begin to master their own minds, the collective world we share will take a quantum leap in quality of life for all.

BF: What do you mean when you say we live in a world of infinite possibility?

DC: Quantum scientists say that in every moment there are an infinite number of possible ways life may take form. It seems odd to say it but everything exists as a “cloud of possibility” that becomes real only when a conscious Observer chooses one of the possibilities. Reality exists as a kind of waiting to happen until you or I “observe” one of the possible realities into actuality. Nothing is fixed; everything is energy in constant flux. This is a creative, live-substance universe and you and I have been granted the privilege of being co-creators. We narrow this world of infinite possibility into probabilities according to our chosen intents. This knowledge has practical applicability on a personal level – with how you view your own partner or child, and it has profound usefulness on a worldly level – with issues of ending hunger and poverty or with keeping the Earth’s systems in balance. We’re not stuck with things as they are. We created this reality and with awareness we can literally co-create new and more workable realities.

BF: How is context everything when it comes to how we live our life?

DC: Context is a framework, a perspective, even a belief system. Context shapes reality. If you go to work thinking you’re going to have a lousy day, you most certainly will. The laws of physics will make sure you do. “Resonance” means you will attract what you are vibrating. This isn’t bebop or la-la language. It’s physics. That we live in an Observer-created Reality means reality is always consistent with the context we bring. We have clichés for this in our culture – the glass half-empty/half-full idea. When you QuantumThink you realize you can invent new contexts. It’s not a matter of either/or – empty or full. You can invent the glass brimming over from an endless reservoir. Contexts are neither true nor false. They are created perspectives that you choose to live from to shape life as you desire.

If you see a girl in a bikini on a beach, you might admire her beauty – but if you see a girl in a bikini sitting at the conference table in your office, you are going to react a lot differently. The fact is the same – girl in bikini. There is nothing absolute about it. Context gives meaning. A simple example, but it will help you remember the message: Context is everything.

BF: You emphasize we need to wake up and expose ourselves to the truth that life can be very different than what we’ve assigned it to be. This could be amazingly empowering but also very frightening to some, right?

DC: We know from science that reality is not fixed and set in stone. It’s an Observer-created Reality and we are the observers creating our own experience all the time. It’s empowering because we get to choose. It could be as you say “frightening” for some because you get to choose and that means you are responsible for what shows up. You can no longer blame circumstances for your lot in life. Even new world view biologists are showing that you can’t even blame your genes because your DNA is being influenced by the way you think and your cells react to that. In life we are either creating consciously or we are in some kind of response to what has already been created for us. Which one would you prefer? The brighter, enlivening view is when you QuantumThink you learn to create quite naturally and you love and are turned on by exploring all the possibilities.

BF: How does QuantumThinking help one’s relationship?

DC: Relationships are not based in fixed traits of two individuals as the old world view would have us think; relationships are based in the way we decide to see one another, the way we hold one another in our mind. This can shift and transform any time we choose. It’s “the Observer effect” in action. Further, because we exist in “fields” together, we are interconnected through the field. My intent for our relationship and for you literally affects you and vice versa. When you QuantumThink you become aware of your judgments in the moment they occur and right there you realize that your judgments are not the “absolute truth.” You start listening to that person as though you are there to discover them freshly in that very moment rather than through the concept you’ve already concluded about them. They experience that depth of listening. Your relationship takes on a whole new quality. You can’t change a person because nature doesn’t work that way. However, you can definitely influence the way a person will be with you, based on your intent.

BF: How about his or her professional life?

DC: Professional success is largely based in the way we communicate and relate to others. When you QuantumThink you heighten your awareness and you go beyond whatever automatic limits you have had about yourself that you were living within unknowingly. This opens you to “infinite possibility thinking.” You are more “present” so you’re listening like you’ve never done before and others experience you that way. You hear things – ideas and solutions that you couldn’t even notice before when you did things more mechanically. You become profoundly connected to your own unique talents and you find yourself naturally in action fulfilling what you truly desire. Your confidence grows. Realizing that every person has unique qualities and talents to contribute you begin relating to people from that perspective. People experience being valued. You operate from the power of Intent. Leadership gets elevated. Things get accomplished in unforeseen ways.

BF: And their health?

DC: Health is interesting because it’s everyone’s number one priority and yet we have little education of how much our thinking and state of mind affect our cells and therefore, our health, moment by moment. When you QuantumThink you achieve a heightened state of awareness that in and of itself is a more relaxed and peaceful state – and everyone knows that tranquility is good for your health.

On a practical level, when you begin to make more conscious choices, the way you deal with your health issues opens up. Instead of automatically going for the conventional treatment, when you open your mind to multi-dimensionality, to the energetic and spiritual dimensions of life, for example, as having very real effects, you might seek other less intrusive and more effective ways of improving your health.

BF: Do we not think fully dimensionally, encompassing the heart, soul, intellect, body, spirit? Or do we tend to think and act within limited systems?

DC: We’ve been oriented around one dimension – the physical. So we really haven’t been Living Fully Dimensionally as we say in QuantumThink. Einstein proved with his famous e=mc2 that what we think of as matter is in fact energy but the general public doesn’t understand the implications. If we were thinking and Living Fully Dimensionally schools would teach children how to work with their own energy and teach ancient spiritual methods of mastering the mind. Science would investigate the nature of consciousness de rigueur, and doctors would be trained to heal with energy frequencies instead of chemicals and cutting.

Thinking in one dimension has kept us locked us into a basically rational-conceptual mode of reality that disconnects us from our heart’s intelligence. Think about it. If people are in touch with their heart, do you really think they could produce weapons to kill one another? It may sound far fetched but it isn’t – not in the least. The daily news is sufficient proof that we need to start Living Fully Dimensionally.

BF: What is the power of Intent and how can we each embrace it?

DC: Intent is the active dynamic of creation for human beings. Intent is not a goal like one would use “intention;” it is more like an activating force that directs and focuses energy to attract outcomes consistent with the Intent. Out of the world of Infinite Possibility you are setting in motion actions and energy dynamics consistent with your Intent. Intent is a universal dynamic that is always playing out, but in many cases it is an Intent that we didn’t choose. Most of the time we aren’t aware of our Intent because we haven’t learned to ask ourselves the question: What is my Intent here? When you QuantumThink you use the power of Intent consciously.

To embrace Intent you need to be awake and aware of any automatic conclusions or judgments you have made about a person or a situation, just notice them, realize they are not “the truth,” and then create an Intent that serves the highest good for all.

BF: Is our world limited by time and space or is there a way to see beyond these factors?

DC: Anyone who uses the Internet or even anyone who has watched TV or listened to the radio realizes that our world already functions outside the limits of ordinary space (physicality) and time. Yet we don’t acknowledge this fact in our society and therefore we’re still trying to manage our lives on an old world time clock in compartments and trying to pin everything down. The net effect of this is that we are overwhelmed – by the speed of change, by the increasing amount of activities and choices, by the unfathomable uncertainty occurring daily. We are living in a quantum age – yet our thinking lags behind.

The important question is: How do we think effectively for such a world? When you QuantumThink you are focused and aware in the present moment and you transcend anxiety that comes from worry about the past or fear about the future. You can function in time and yet think beyond time and learn to use inherent creative faculties that don’t depend on your physical presence for getting things done. It’s quite liberating.

BF: You say the act of listening is a dimension of being rather than a skill. How so?

DC: Listening is a dimension of being because it has to do with being related. Specifically, real listening is being fully present for the other person. You can develop the skill of hearing the words and even repeating them back and you might still not be “there” and the other person experiences that. We tend to think of communication as the passing of information back and forth. However, authentic communication goes beyond the words. It is a spiritual and an energetic connection. It is literally being present. When you are present to them, they are present to themselves and they can actually hear what they’re saying without having to fight through a web of judgment or distraction that goes on in the so-called listener. “Listening with your whole being” as we call it in QuantumThink creates a quality of relationship that will blow your mind.

BF: You refer to something as the “non-local mind.” What is that?

DC: One of the most important discoveries in science today is that our mind is nonlocal. Nonlocal means the mind is not “located” in our brain or in our body because the mind is nonmaterial. Mind doesn’t have a spatial quality like an ordinary object. Since the mind is not located anywhere in space and time, it means it can be anywhere in space and time. We’re not used to thinking this way and it sounds way out, yet there is ample documentation published in respected science journals that prove this again and again.

What does this mean for us that we have a nonlocal mind? It means we can both send and receive information at a distance from us. What we call a “coincidence” – when you’re thinking of someone and they phone you in that instant – that so-called coincidence is actually a natural faculty of nonlocal mind that we can learn to use. It’s extremely useful!

BF: There seems to be a paradox here. You ask us to see a new world yet we live in an old world, so how do we make this quantum leap?

DC: You cannot see a new world view from the perspective of old world principles. You cannot fit an infinite possibility universe into a more limited one. So…what to do? It requires a literal quantum leap in consciousness. We do this all the time – every time your mind “jumps” from one experience to another. Only now we take this leap consciously.

Once you have the realization there is a whole other set of principles that we could be living from, rather than looking at them from your current perspective, you take the leap and you look from them. It’s like living on a remote island and trying to figure out how to live in New York City. You have to go to the big apple and experience it from there.

That’s what QuantumThink is for. Once you realize your thinking is conditioned from a mostly erroneous, backward view of the nature of reality and how things work, you can make the choice. You learn the expanded more accurate principles. You don’t trade in the old world view for the new world view. You simply learn to distinguish them and you become more effective with all of it. You take the leap and then it takes practice. The paradox of mastery is that it’s a practice.
Dianne Collins new book Do You Quantum Think? New Thinking That Will rock your world has recently been released. © 2008 Dianne Collins/QuantumThink®
©2003-2011 QuantumThink®


Occupy From the Inside

Tim Mohin Director of Corporate Responsibility, AMD

To some readers, the very notion of working within a corporation is tantamount to selling out their values as advocates for social or environmental justice. While this is a valid perspective, there is another view. Liz Maw, (executive director of the MBA’s for social justice group Net Impact) articulated this view in her opening remarks for the 2011 Net Impact conference, when she said, “We are here to occupy Wall Street from the inside.” The standing ovation was spontaneous, sustained and genuine. The audience represented a whole new generation of young people moving into the workforce with their sights set on working for societal good from within a company.

But, as the occupy protests drag on, the popular view is far more divided. Are all corporations greedy and self-interested? Can corporations really be a force for good? These are questions that have been pondered for some time. The legendary economist Milton Friedman authored a New York Times op-ed in 1970 titled “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits.” Friedman pulled no punches in the opening to this piece:

“The businessmen believe that they are defending free enterprise when they declaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable “social” ends; that business has a “social conscience” and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers. In fact they are — or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously — preaching pure and unadulterated socialism. Businessmen who talk this way are unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.”

Is corporate social responsibility “undermining the basis of a free society?” Should companies have any role in protecting people and the planet? Should the excesses or externalities that can result from the pursuit of profit be the sole province of government and/or civil society to monitor and regulate? Friedman and a line of followers (see “The Case Against CSR,” 2010 Wall Street Journal op-ed) have articulated the popular perspective that companies have no obligation to people and the planet. Their only obligation to the world is to generate profits for their shareholders.


Such black and white distinctions only make sense in the academic ivory tower. In the shades of grey that color the real world, companies must make trade-offs everyday on where to invest and how to conduct their business. High profile cases of corporate misconduct mask the less sexy, but no less important, cases of companies choosing to do the right things right. Even Friedman admits that business leaders must conform to the basic rules of society and ethical norms in his 1970 article:

“(The) responsibility (of the business executive) is to conduct the business in accordance with (the owners) desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.” (Emphasis added)

The “ethical customs” of society have changed a bit since 1970 when this article was published. On December 2nd of that year, President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to public outcry over corporate pollution disasters such as the near extinction of songbirds from the insecticide DDT (unveiled by Rachel Carlson’s 1962 book, A Silent Spring), the Cuyahoga river fire in 1969 (yep, the river actually caught on fire), and the first Earth Day in April, 1970.

So, by following the “ethical customs” before 1970, rivers caught on fire and songbirds were driven to the brink of extinction. Thank goodness today’s ethical norms are more enlightened. Society expects more from corporations and, as these expectations increase, there is a growing need for people work for social and environmental justice from inside companies.

By effectively working within a company you can influence decisions that can have massive societal benefits across the globe. And there has never been a better time to work on these changes. The race to be the greenest most responsible company on the planet is a full bloom (e.g., last year, more than 5,500 companies around the world issued sustainability reports, up from about 800 ten years ago) and appears to have substantial staying power. Companies of all types are looking for people to help improve their environmental, social and ethical performance. By learning the skills and strategies of working for good within a company you can create large, immediate and lasting change.

Instead of empty rhetoric, this point of view is the essence of my own career choices. I have done more for people and the planet working within corporations than I could have ever expected to achieve had I stayed in the government (I worked at EPA and the U.S. Senate in the first 10 years of my career). While government regulators and non-profit activists are very important drivers for social and environmental justice, they must work from the outside to cajole corporate behavior. The threat of enforcement or activism as a tool for change pales in comparison to the sweeping implications of, for example, leveraging a multinational corporation’s buying power to transform working conditions in a global supply chain.

To a certain extent, being a corporate treehugger is a line-walking exercise. Corporations are indeed focused on profit and being an activist within a company is a very different than being an activist for a non-profit organization. But as expectations and transparency increase, the “ethical customs” for corporate behavior are changing. These macro-level changes are opening up new jobs in CSR and changing “mainstream” roles across almost all corporate functions.

I wonder if Milton Friedman would think that the inmates have taken over the asylum if he could witness 2,600 enthusiastic MBA students and professionals cheering for corporate responsibility at the 2011 Net Impact conference. As these business leaders of tomorrow increasingly occupy Wall Street from the inside, even Friedman might have to concede that the profit motive and social justice can be mutually supportive.

Tim Mohin is director of Corporate Responsibility for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and the author of the forthcoming book, Changing Business from the Inside Out: The Treehugger’s Guide to Working in Corporations. (Greenleaf Publishing: May 2012 272 pp 234 x 156 mm paperback ISBN 978-1-906093-70-9). His postings and comments made in his book are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.