Monthly Archives: February 2014

A meeting with the Canadian First Lady

On Tuesday, I had the honour and privilege of welcoming one of the most inspiring people I have come across in public life, Her Excellency Mrs Sharon Johnston, First Lady of Canada to an Asha slum colony.

Sharon Jhonston_1

Sharon Jhonston_2

Amongst much warmth and joy we had an amazing interaction with college students and women from Asha communities. She listened with rapt attention as each one of them went on to describe how they have overcome the significant obstacles of poverty to succeed in life.

Sharon Jhonston_3

In step with the Asha values of gratitude and compassion, she stressed on the importance of giving back to the community while addressing the students. “Whenever you take one step up in life, always remember to take someone with you,” she said.

Here’s a link to her video interview after the visit:

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Types of Positive Emotions and core truths concerning them

There is a whole range of positive emotions. Of course there is the category of ‘ jump for joy’ positive emotions, but often those are the obvious ones that come to mind. Other positive emotions could be described as feeling grateful for our current circumstances, feeling completely in tune with our environment, at peace, serene, tranquil, and savoring that. Or sharing laughter with a loved one, a friend, and the lightness of that moment. Or being inspired by great leaders, feeling the love and closeness of people we care for.

All these positive emotions share in their core, two common truths. The first one is that they open us. They literally change the boundaries of our hearts and our minds, and change our outlook on our environments. They increase the expanse of our peripheral vision. Our world quite literally expands, and we can see more. The openness of our hearts and minds obey the warmth of positivity. It changes our ability to see our common humanity with others.

Dr Kiran in a slum

Because we see more, we see more possibilities, we come up with more ideas about what we might do next. We become more creative. We are more likely to be more resilient, and are able to bounce back quicker from adversity. Studies have demonstrated that children do better on a Math test if they think of a positive memory before the they take the test, so there is better academic performance. Research has also shown that physicians make better medical decisions, as they are better at integrating the complex information of an unsolved case.

Positive emotions also allow us to look past racial and cultural differences, to recognize the uniqueness of individuals, and to see towards oneness. People are more trusting, people come to better win-win solutions and negotiations. At a very fundamental level, we are able to see larger systems, larger forms of interconnection that can make a huge difference when we are trying to address some really entangled problems that we face.

The second core truth about positive emotions is that they transform us for the better. They bring out the best in us. Everyday, new cells are being born within us. Scientists tell us that on all body systems, we replace 1% of our body cells each day, which means we will on average replace 30% by next month, 100% by the next season. We are turning over a lot. The latest science suggests that the pace of cell renewal does not just follow some predetermined DNA script, but that our emotions affect the level of cellular change. This is an idea that is completely consistent with the broader lesson that positive emotions change who we are.

Dr Kiran with Children

Therefore if we increase our daily diet of positive emotions, we change who we are, we change our ways of being in the world. However, changing our traits to develop positive emotions is not easy. It is akin to a lifestyle change, and requires continual reinforcement and effort. It takes as much will power as does lowering our cholesterol or losing weight.

All human beings can either languish, barely holding onto life, or flourish, becoming ripe with beauty and possibility, and remarkably resilient to hard times.The degree to which we experience positive emotions in our lives will predict whether we are languishing or flourishing. We can let positive emotions light our way to the path of flourishing.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2014