Richard Davidson and his team want to help create a kinder, wiser and more compassionate world. And it all started in 1992 when Davidson met the Dalai Lama. Davidson, founder of the University of Wisconsin–Madison's Center for Healthy Minds, focuses his research on why some people are more vulnerable to life's challenges than others. The Dalai Lama suggested shifting away from studying things like anxiety and depression to studying kindness and compassion.
In addition to hard-science brain research, the center also conducts field studies, such as a kindness curriculum with preschool children in Madison public schools. Another project the center plans to undertake will look at ways to integrate well-being practices into the workplace.
Davidson suggests a simple practice for anyone who wants to try a kinder approach in interacting with people: Reflect on the idea that every human being shares the same wish to be happy and to be free of suffering. When someone acts in a way that is upsetting, consider that the person's action is probably unintentional. "And if we do that, we can connect to people's hearts in a way which I think can be enormously helpful, and to minimize a lot of the interpersonal conflict and greed, which I think is a root cause of a lot of the problems we have today."
The M List
Madison Magazine's M List is a who's who of organizations and individuals who are having an impact on our local culture and economy. In its fourth year, the M List recognizes those making strides as mentors and teachers. Last year's list of honorees were making impacts in the area of social innovation. The original M List, in 2013, honored the technology sector. The 2014 M List honored "Foodtastic" entrepreneurs and innovators.