In order to help educators and parents reinforce the concepts taught in the Peace of Mind Curriculum, we offer here some additional information on three key concepts: Heartfulness, the Hand Model of the Brain, and the Negativity Bias. Let us know what else you have questions about, and we’ll do our best to respond!
Children learn about and practice Heartfulness in all of the Peace of Mind Core Curricula, and this practice is taught and modeled in our Peace of Mind storybook, Henry is Kind.
What is Heartfulness? Heartfulness, a kind of loving-kindness or compassion meditation, is a simple but powerful mindfulness practice that allows us to develop our capacity for empathy and to connect with others. You might practice sending kind wishes to those you care about, to yourself, or even to someone you may be in conflict with. Sometimes doing heartfulness for someone that you are angry or frustrated with can help you to try to see things from their point of view, to remind yourself that they are a person too with thoughts and feelings and experiences that might be different from your own.
Here is a Heartfulness Practice you can do with your kids, very similar to what they learn in the PoM Curriculum.
Like to know more?
In their groundbreaking book Altered Traits, the highly regarded duo of Richard Davidson and Daniel Goleman identify research studies that meet the highest scientific standards and confirm that: “compassion meditation enhances empathic concern, activates [brain] circuits for good feelings and love, as well as circuits that register the suffering of others, and prepares a person to act when suffering is encountered.”
Emma Seppala, Science Director, Stanford Center For Compassion And Altruism Research And Education and Co-Director Wellness, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, offers a great list of reasons why heartfulness is good for you including the relevant research.
For more information on mindfulness and compassion practice for children and in schools, you might like to explore these resources as well:
- Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison: https://centerforhealthy minds.org
- Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Stanford University: http://ccare.stanford.edu
- The Greater Good Science Center at the UC Berkeley: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/compassion
The Hand Model of the Brain: Flipping Your Lid
Dr. Dan Siegel’s Hand Model of the Brain. Found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-m2YcdMdFw. © 2017 Mind Your Brain, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Dr. Siegel’s Hand Model of the Brain, found on page 85 of Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain (2013). © 2015 Mind Your Brain, Inc.
The Negativity Bias
Children learn about this concept in the Peace of Mind Core Curriculum for Grades 1 and 2 and for Grades 3 to 5. The Negativity Bias is also the subject of the Peace of Mind Storybook Sergio Sees the Good.
What is the Negativity Bias? The negativity bias is our tendency to focus on and remember painful, embarrassing, or threatening experiences more than positive ones. When Sergio was pricked by a cactus, his brain filed that memory in a “Don’t Forget This” drawer to prevent him from touching a cactus again. The negativity bias is helpful that way; it protects us from danger. But have you ever focused so much on a negative experience—perhaps a minor humiliation like spilling your lunch tray as Sergio did—that you’ve been unable to enjoy the good things going on around you for the rest of the day? If you have (and who hasn’t?), you know all about the negativity bias.
Unless we’re in immediate danger, it’s healthier to focus on the positive things in our lives—healthier, but often harder. We remember the good big things like a great trip or a special event, but we tend to forget about the good little things that happen every day. Taking time to notice and appreciate good things allows our brains to capture those memories and file them in a long-term storage drawer right next to the bad memories. The result is that we see our lives more positively—and more realistically.
How can I address my own Negativity Bias, or help my kids address theirs?
Where can I find more information about the Negativity Bias?
Visit the Greater Good Science Center website: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/ and search for “Negativity Bias” or “Happiness.”
Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman, a neuroscientist specializing in child and adolescent brain development, suggests the following resources for adults and older kids interested in learning more about this important concept.
1) Grateful People Are Happy and Healthy—But Why? Frontiers for Young Minds is a journal edited by kids for kids about science topics. This article explains how and why gratitude practice contributes to our health and happiness.
2) Study links brain structure, anxiety and negative bias in healthy adults. This article summarizes findings of a research study done at the University of Illinois. https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/487507
3) This is a brief but informative and helpful TedX Talk by Alison Ledgerwood at UC Davis on the negativity bias and how gratitude practice can help offset its effects. tps://youtu.be/7XFLTDQ4JMk –
4) The Negativity Bias: Why the Bad Stuff Sticks and How to Overcome It – This is a succinct overview of the negativity bias and also includes tips for overcoming it from a mental health perspective. https://www.psycom.net/negativity-bias