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Honing Emotional Intelligence To Combat The Chaos In The World

At the recent launch of the Social, Emotional, Ethical (SEE) Learning curriculum in Delhi, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, shared his thoughts with BW Wellbeingworld. He said that the only way leadership at any level can imbibe these qualities is by educating the next generation. His Holiness emphasised that as leadership emerges from the community, the community itself needs to be holistically educated or balanced.

Photo Credit : Tenzin Choejor ,

His Holiness Dalai Lama
His Holiness Dalai Lama
His Holiness Dalai Lama
His Holiness Dalai Lama
Brendan Ozawa-de Silva, HH Dalai Lama; Dr.Kimberly Schonert Reichi
Brendan Ozawa-de Silva, HH Dalai Lama; Dr.Kimberly Schonert Reichi
Manish Sisodia, HH Dalai Lama, Kailash Sathyarthi launching the curriculum
Manish Sisodia, HH Dalai Lama, Kailash Sathyarthi launching the curriculum

The key to wellbeing lies in how we connect with ourselves and others - both mentally and physically. The dynamics of all interactions are based on the level of connectedness and quality of engagement between people, be it at the school-level among children, personally, professionally or with leadership at the helm of power in the socio-political or corporate domain.

Today sadly, there is a huge disconnect and lack of kindness, empathy and compassion across the board, which are the basic ingredients of Emotional Intelligence. When there is a dearth of these basic qualities, overall well-being suffers.

At the recent launch of the Social, Emotional, Ethical (SEE) Learning curriculum in Delhi, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, shared his thoughts with BW Wellbeingworld. He said that the only way leadership at any level can imbibe these qualities is by educating the next generation. His Holiness emphasised that as leadership emerges from the community, the community itself needs to be holistically educated or balanced.

He stressed that “the prevailing education is materialistically oriented". He said, "A generation that comes from that kind of education eventually creates a materialistic life and culture for themselves. Such a society also produces a leader who does not have knowledge on how to tackle some emotional problem."

SEE Learning

He emphasised that with this new knowledge of SEE Learning, we can and must think of efforts to change the whole of society. “One's way of thinking should be more holistic. Thinking should be about both the inner world and the outer world because when you think about the inner world more seriously, then compassion is naturally involved. When we allow anger, it has a nature to expel; compassion brings (people) together. For a social animal, compassion is very important. Even animals appreciate compassion; their fights are without weapons,” His Holiness said.

We, on the other hand, use our wonderful intelligence to create destructive weapons, which I think is a pity, "he went on to say, adding, Society thinks money is more important. Therefore, they sell weapons to bring more money, which is wrong and depicts the short-sightedness of humans." Fighting the internal demon of anger, promoting the need for both external disarmament and internal as well has always been a key theme for HH.

"Anger only brings destruction. Compassion really brings inner strength, inner peace. If there is individual-level peace, then the surroundings don’t matter. Education should include knowledge about the inner world. Extending from the self to family, to the community and species. One needs to think globally. A map of emotions should be taught. Then children can see the structure of our mind. This knowledge helps at every level. The future can change through our perceptions and mental attitude. There is a need to create a stronger sense of passion and loving kindness. Then, even when there are ideological and political differences you will talk and find mutual solutions," he said. That, in the opinion of His Holiness, is genuine peace.

His Holiness talked of the transient nature of time. "Time is always moving. The results won’t be next week but will come through in the next generation. We cannot force time to stop. The past we cannot change. The only possibility is the future. We now need to think about the future more seriously. If the present situation is okay, then there is no need to bother. But the present is suffering. Then, the basic nature is more compassionate, because that is the basis of our survival. It will emerge," he said.

His Holiness drew on scientific evidence to demonstrate that a more compassionate mind that uses compassion and education as building blocks are better for our health. His Holiness elaborated on the notion. "There is a real possibility to explore that basic human nature. The question is that the education system is not adequate to preserve basic human values. Now is the right time to show concern," he said. "So, in order to create a better future, education is key," he said, "Therefore education should not be oriented towards the material (world)." He went on to say that "Thinking needs to be at a global level. Thinking about the wellbeing of others, including the environment (would make) humans constructive and we can then change the future,” His Holiness told his audience.

The Dalai Lama emphasised on the need to make an effort now for a peaceful and harmonious century ahead. At the launch, he also talked of his vision of a world where seven billion humans become more compassionate and peace-loving, which, in turn, would change everything. "This can be the century of compassion,” he said, stressing that "but for that, we have to make an effort now for a peaceful and harmonious century."

The "Now" Is Absent

Today devices, social media and technology are permeating every aspect of our existence and bringing about disconnectedness, His Holiness said. The Dalai Lama hastened to add, though, that he still considers technology wonderful, but it was up to the people to decide how it should be used. Technology should be used in a constructive way, with a sense of concern for the well-being of humanity and the well-being of the world, HH emphasised. It is more sensible for human beings to be compassionate, he said, which would turn not just the individual and family, but the entire world more peaceful. "Be more genuine and ready to share and help each other," he said, "This is our only home, so we have to take care of it."

"We have been praying for over a thousand years but nothing has happened," he said at the launch of the social-emotional ethical (SEE) Learning curriculum, "now is the time for our action and motivation. If we make an effort now, we can create a happier world in the next century."

He said he had observed that many people outwardly look very successful, but inward a lot of stress and unhappiness exists in them. "Now is the time when we need a sense of global responsibility, not just think of one's self. In reality, we need to think more about the well-being of others," he said, adding that with such an attitude "You will get many benefits. When there is too much self- centred attitude, there is a lot of anxiety."

In the opinion of His Holiness, we need to think more seriously about the causes of anxiety. He said we (implying humankind) lacked a sense of pervasive responsibility and a sense of sisterhood and brotherhood. “It is our responsibility to think about others, as you are enjoying your meal here. Your brothers and sisters are affected by floods, drought, famine. Think about Syria, Yemen, Jordan, where young kids are dying. These are our creation. It seems our hearts have become numb,” he said remorsefully.

In the words of the Dalai Lama, “it's time for a deeper approach. An education of the heart, which teaches future generations skills such as collaboration, kindness, mindfulness, compassion and ethics.” The SEE Learning curriculum was prepared by Emory at the behest of the Dalai Lama and under his guidance and inspiration. It was also supported by Vana Foundation in India and other educators in India.

Future Of The World

The curriculum was launched by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, Noble laureate Kailash Sathyarthi and Delhiís Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. Manish Sisodia described the curriculum as, "One of the greatest gifts to humanity." He said he believed that "Trying to solve the problem of hatred and violence has not been possible through rules and laws and the millions of weapons that are being purchased every day." He emphasised that the SEE Learning curriculum was the only solution to oneness of all human beings. He said it held the key to the future of the world. "All our efforts of the past have been limited to preaching,” Sisodia said, "Today you can help the next generation with this scientific curriculum."

Kailash Sathyarthi said compassion is part of our basic nature, but over time it gets marred and layered with knowledge, bias, fear, insecurities. He implored the audience to ensure that the SEE Learning curriculum not be confined to families or close friends. "I hope that compassion becomes a way of life. Need not learn it, as it is already a part of you. Let us see how we can inculcate compassionate politics and business," he said.

The Academic Rigour

Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Executive Director, Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics, Emory University, said, "The Dalai Lama invited Emory to create a programme in ethics and basic human values that would be grounded in common sense, common experience, and scientific evidence, and that would be equally acceptable to those of any religious faith and those without."

He went on to say that "Scientific research has shown that ethical development, alongside social and emotional learning, contribute to a studentís physical, psychological, and social well-being, helping them to succeed not just academically, but in life." 

SEE Learning provides educators with a comprehensive framework for cultivation of social, emotional, and ethical competencies that can be used in K-12 education, as well as higher education and professional education.  The programme is part of Emoryís newly established Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics.

Important New Topics 

Negi and his colleagues collaborated with internationally recognised experts in developmental psychology, education, neuroscience and trauma-informed care and with globally recognised experts in social and emotional learning, such as Dr Daniel Goleman, Linda Lantieri, Dr Robert Roeser, and Dr Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, in developing the programme.

This innovative programme includes important new topics such as attention training, cultivation of compassion for the self and others, resilience skills based on trauma-informed care, systems thinking and ethical discernment. An online platform is available for educator preparation and the curriculum is currently being translated into fourteen languages.

In India, SEE Learning has been supported by Vana Foundation and other Indian educator groups. Nishant Dogra, Executive Director, Vana Foundation, said the foundation would continue to be a key part of the Indian educators' group that is being formulated for facilitating SEE Learning in India. It is heartening that many corporate houses are doing their bit too for society and have realised that the overall well-being of the nation depends on educating and empowering children.

Blue Orb Foundation, which is an initiative of the Avanee Foundation led by Avantika Dalmia, has worked with the Delhi government on the happiness curriculum. Sisodia is hopeful that this curriculum will be used in conjunction with the Happiness curriculum, which was blessed by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama earlier last year.

At present, a thousand schools across 20,000 classrooms and approximately 15 lakh students practice Mindfulness meditation every single morning. It is a daily activity. Sisodia described the results as tremendous and as the largest experiment on Happiness with children. He emphasised that "Future of all the world and nations is SEE Learning."

Blue Orb has worked with the Delhi government to build the Happiness Curriculum. They have implemented their own curriculum called Poornata in six private schools in the national capital region (NCR). They are working with the Andhra Pradesh government to build their SEE Learning curriculum called  Anand Vidya Pranalika. They are starting work with the Uttar Pradesh government from 1 July 2019 to test a specially-designed curriculum on social and emotional wellbeing. They have also trained teachers to deliver a curriculum on social and emotional learning in five schools across India.

Creating Positive Leaders

Blue Orb is nurturing qualities like honesty, impartiality, reflectiveness, responsiveness, flexibility, fair diligence, courage, compassion, confidence and gratitude. Through their work, they are trying to build a generation that possesses all these qualities and more. 

Madhuri Mehta, Founder and CEO, Blue Orb Foundation said, "We dream of our children as human beings growing up with a strong character and contributing positively to society at large. We dream of them as physically strong but at the same time emotionally balanced, socially capable and spiritual. For these dreams to come true, the childís mind should be attuned or influenced to a strong set of values. Instilling a robust value system in our children is essential to help them handle the vagaries of life with dignity and responsibility."

Internally Blue Orb works constantly to enhance its curriculum by researching and adapting some of the best practices followed by experts on social and emotional well-being across the world. Blue Orb also works regularly with its employees for their well-being (physical, emotional, social and spiritual) by ensuring that they are regularly trained on well-being techniques like yoga, mindfulness practices, breath work, meditations etc.

Anahita Moghadam, international speaker and founder of Neural Beings in New York City, works as a coach for executives and emerging entrepreneurs. She serves organisations and individuals who aspire to have a substantial positive impact on the world.

Moghadam expresses an urgency to develop these skills not only among children but among adults too. She consciously explores these concepts with her clients and has seen remarkable results. "They are no longer luxuries for fringe societies and hippies of the world to play with. These values and skills are needed for the survival of our planet and its overall well-being," she said. "Since our nature is pure potential and we all want to be happy, it is common sense to reclaim intelligence," she said.

The Corporate Sphere 

Moghadam believes that conscious leaders will emerge when these skills are honed. "Leaders who stand at the cutting-edge of social and cultural evolution, aware of their impact on others, conscious leaders are committed to an ongoing path of self-reflection and mind training, creating cultures of positivity and growth around them. Able to discern between leading and being led, they are aware of their inner resources and can replenish these self-sufficiently. Self-aware leaders establish a sense of safety, trust and loyalty among their teams and staff, encouraging collaboration and inclusivity,” said Moghadam.

Gaurav Sinha, author, Compassion Inc. and Founder and CEO, Insignia Worldwide Group, feels that "Well-being as a concept has minimal resonance in corporate parlance.  In being well and well-being there is a certain sense of individuality. This self-oriented culture of capitalism is also a cognitive prison.  I believe Neo-Capitalism is about prosperity," he told BW Wellbeingworld.

"We need to focus on this ROE (Return on Empathy) which is about positive social impact and equitable returns. Companies of the future will build their businesses around compassionate values for their corporate constituents. We need to reframe the conversation about success to become more about happiness and I think companies need to understand that crony capitalism is not a sustainable way to create differentiation or engagement - CEOs must become Chief Empathy Officers and to groom the future CEOs, one has to instill values of compassion as part of their skillset and capabilities," said Sinha.

"We need to nurture kindness towards both the planet and its people and schools must play a critical role in the formative years of building character, knowledge and skills. The future of education needs to focus on Critical Thinking, Creativity, Compassion, Collaboration and Communication - these 4Cs are the essence of what makes us human, immaterial of any technological advancements we might garner or deploy in the world," he told this writer.

Educating The Heart

We are surely walking towards a revolution. The time is ripe for unpackaging the power of the heart economy. Imagine a world where the focus is on the heart economy? His Holiness believes that the current education system does not educate the heart. According to him, human compassion, which is a key factor, is missing in academia at present. He stressed on the importance of emotional hygiene being at par with physical hygiene.

Talking of emotional regulation, His Holiness said, "From kindergarten, we should include some education about not only external knowledge but about internal basic human values. In todays world, problems are our own creation. No one wants a problem because of too much human emotion. All this is our own creation," he said. He emphasised that prayer alone cannot solve these things, the only action combined with motivation can.

His Holiness is of the firm belief that finally, the 21st Century will be the century of peace and the century of nonviolence. When problems arise, the mode of confronting the problems will be through non-violent means and dialogue. There is ample proof that such programmes, which work on self-awareness, self-management, empathy and social skills, are effective, especially for troubled students.

A Better Place

These skills help children make good decisions, something that Dr Daniel Goleman’s work has corroborated through past SEE L frameworks. Dr Goleman is the author of the bestseller, Emotional Intelligence. He elaborated that "The Emory University SEE Learning framework represents an education system of the heart in addition to several crucial skills, which are largely missing in the existing systems, including a focus on attention training care and compassion systems learning and the development of an ethical outlook."

Dr Kimberly Schonhert-Reichl a renowned expert in the area of social and emotional learning (SEL) underscored that "This is truly a worldwide programme, translated into 12 languages and free for teachers across the world. The curriculum is not only based on science but also includes the applied knowledge of teachers. It goes beyond mindfulness and embraces our common humanity. There is a need to cultivate not only children's minds but their hearts and spirits as well."

Fellow expert in social and emotional learning, Linda Lantieri, felt that "We need to focus on our shared humanity, inner resilience in the face of trauma and the importance of interdependence, viewing each other as our brothers and sisters as part of huge human family."

And what better place than the school to prepare children for the challenges and opportunities they will face ahead in life. Equipped with this knowledge, our children will be in a better place for sure! 


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