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Symposium 2012

Solution for Mental Training towards a Caring Economy

The Challenge

Complex problems, such as climate change or irresponsible deployment of resources, are difficult to resolve without global participation of cooperating partners. To date, these problems have been main ...

Complex problems, such as climate change or irresponsible deployment of resources, are difficult to resolve without global participation of cooperating partners. To date, these problems have been mainly tackled through top-down approaches where governments and international institutions take the role of decision-makers.

Make mental training facilities widely available in educational institutions and the workplace, to improve physical and mental health.

For centuries, western society has recognized the benefit of maintaining physical health necessary for a productive society. Thus, big firms, hotels and schools have introduced sport and fitness facilities within their own buildings around the globe.

What has been forgotten is that people also have the capacity to train their mental faculties, such as attention, metacognition, emotion-regulation faculties and even prosocial motivation and compassion. Training these mental faculties does not only make people more efficient, since they can concentrate on tasks better and cope with everyday stress and challenges in a more balanced and protective way: it also helps to develop a less self-centered and broader view on themselves and their interdependence with others. It can improve the compassion and caring motivation needed to face the problems of global society. Recent plasticity research focused on short- and long-term mental training studies has accumulated evidence for the “trainability” of cognitive, as well as socioaffective faculties, such as attention, empathy and compassion in children and adults.

More specifically, neuroscience has shown that compassion training not only increases activity in brain networks related to positive affect and affiliation when exposed to the distress of others; but it also reduces stressrelevant hormonal responses and increases immune markers and prosocial behavior towards others. Given these promising findings, it is time to translate these into policy suggestions.

Although school children, business people and bankers will presumably need different forms of mental training, they should share the same underlying principles.

First, they should understand that people are not exclusively and intrinsically selfish: instead they are capable of prosocial motivation and altruism—and this motivation can be trained.

Second, they should understand that the exercise of such prosocial motivation can increase well-being and happiness, as well as health and emotional balance. In contrast, the expression of excessive selfishness can have detrimental effects on well-being and health (for example, stressrelated diseases and depression).

Third, they should understand and attend to the interdependence of people and of all living things.

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    Symposium 2012

    Provide mindfulness and compassion training to preschool children as a standard component of their education.

    Provide mindfulness and compassion training to preschool children as a standard component of their education.

    Provide mindfulness and compassion training to preschool children as a standard component of their education.

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    Make mindfulness and compassion training available for the teachers and the parents of preschool children, to reinforce the children’s training.

    Make mindfulness and compassion training available for the teachers and the parents of preschool children, to reinforce the children’s training.

    Make mindfulness and compassion training available for the teachers and the parents of preschool children, to reinforce the children’s training.

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    Encourage business enterprises to establish "mental gyms" in the workplace.

    Encourage business enterprises to establish "mental gyms" in the workplace.

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    Make mindfulness and compassion training available to journalists as a catalyst for turning significant caring activities into news.

    Make mindfulness and compassion training available to journalists as a catalyst for turning significant caring activities into news.

    Make mindfulness and compassion training available to journalists as a catalyst for turning significant caring activities into news.

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