Greetings and welcome to my new website and personal blog. This is definitely a new adventure for me! My aspiration for this blog is to provide a vehicle for staying connected with a very wide range of wonderful people who have come into orbit together with me over the past decade. At these moments, it is always helpful to check-in with our intentions and motivations, both for you being here and reading this blog and for me being here and writing this blog. It is my fervent wish that whatever insights I share here be of some use in helping us to understand ourselves better, make the world a kinder, more compassionate place and work together to promote well-being and relieve suffering. An important occasion for the creation of this blog is my new book—The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live–and How You Can Change Them — available on March 1, 2012. This is my first book written for the general public (It was written with the wonderful help of Sharon Begley, an award-winning science journalist and author.) It was not without some trepidation that I undertook this project, but I’m really excited about its impending release. I also hope it will illuminate aspects of our experience that often remain unexamined. In my book, I discuss six basic emotional styles and how our emotional fingerprint is a result of where on the continuum of each style we fall. These six dimensions reflect the discoveries of modern neuroscientific research: They are:
- Resilience: how slowly or quickly you recover from adversity
- Outlook: how long you are able to sustain positive emotion.
- Social Intuition: how adept you are at picking up social signals from the people around you.
- Self Awareness: How well you perceive bodily feelings that reflect emotions.
- Sensitivity to Context: how good are you at regulating your emotional responses to take into account the context you find yourself in.
- Attention: how sharp and clear your focus is.
In the book, I offer short questionnaires that will allow you to assess where you fall on each of these six dimensions. I also offer some practical tips on how to change your set-point on each of these dimensions, should you wish to alter your patterns of emotional reactivity and regulation. The book is part science, part autobiography as I explain my personal journey from my graduate student days in William James Hall at Harvard to my visits to the Himalayas to my work with the Dalai Lama. And speaking of the Dalai Lama, I just returned from three weeks abroad where I visited Bhutan and India. A week of that journey was spent with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala at a Mind & Life Institute meeting focused on ‘Ecology, Ethics and Interdependence.’ I will devote a future blog to the themes of this meeting as well as my meetings with the Prime Minister of Bhutan and with the architect of the Bhutanese Gross National Happiness Initiative. My hope is to post here at least once per month. I’m excited about this new forum through which we can connect, and I encourage you to please send me your thoughts, comments and questions. And while it will be difficult to answer every question and address every comment, please know that your insights and perspectives will guide where this blog takes us. For now, I wish to thank all of you for your interest in my work and that of my extraordinary team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There isn’t a day that goes by without me reflecting on the gratitude I feel for the incredible opportunity we collectively have. Thank you for your interest and support and I look forward to staying connected. With gratitude, Richie