Can mindfulness change the world?
05 Jun 2017 | Florence Scialom
Last week I attended an Action for Happiness event
called From Mindfulness to Action, featuring the
renowned author and Emotional Intelligence expert Dan
The theme of the event was the relationship between mindfulness
and social change; or how our personal happiness connects to the
influence we can have on the wider world.
Dr Goleman has plenty of authority in this area. He is an
internationally recognised psychologist and bestselling
author, and his books include A Force for Good, written with The Dalai Lama.
His more recent work has focused on the potential of mindfulness to
change the world.
Daniel Goleman (2nd from left) with (from left to right) Professor
Richard Layard, Dr Mark Williamson and Alex Nunn from Action for
Goleman is a strong advocate of mindfulness, saying it offers us
"a workout in the mental gym". In the same way that we exercise our
bodies for good health, we should also exercise our minds through
mindfulness practices, he argued.
The benefits on offer are vast: Mindfulness has been proven to
strengthen our cognitive control, improve our memory and helps us
to switch more rapidly between tasks. Plus, Goleman highlighted
that in our age of smart technology it has become even more
important to maintain and strengthen our attention spans.
There is a wealth of evidence on offer showing the benefits of
mindfulness for our personal health and happiness, but what
relevance does this have in the wider world?
We can all be agents of
Through his work with the Dalai Lama, Goleman highlights that
taking mindful care of yourself is actually just one step of a
wider, yet integrated process. Mindfulness is actually more
effective if practiced with a sense of compassion, built upon
empathy for others and for the natural world.
There are many challenges in the world today, and change is needed
in many areas, including our economic systems and the way we care for the environment. Yet, although we are
bombarded with negative headlines each day, there are also many
people working towards positive change.
"Acts of kindness far outweigh hostility every day of the year",
Goleman said. If we practice mindfulness with compassion it offers
us a wider awareness of the possibilities for change, and can
strengthen our ability to act.
"We can all be positive agents of change; the important thing is
to act", said Goleman. The event closed with a wider discussion
about how we would each like to act to change the world. There are
thousands of ways that each of us can act to create positive
change, and Goleman encouraged us that no change is too big or too
People then shared a wide range of pledges for action, from
taking the time to listen to people with differing views, to
adopting a more vegan diet.
Overall the evening highlighted that having compassion for
ourselves through mindfulness can be extended outwards in empathy
and compassion towards others. If we are able to act from this
understanding we can change the world, even if this starts in
small, yet significant, ways.
Let's build wellbeing
Acknowledging the connection between personal happiness and
wider wellbeing in society and the natural world is central to our
work at the Network of Wellbeing (NOW). We believe that
people's happiness depends in part on the health of the communities
in which they live and the health of the natural world on which we
In September 2017, we are running a Building Wellbeing Together Weekend at the
beautiful Hawkwood College in Stroud UK, exploring how we can work
together to create more wellbeing. The event will feature a
workshop from Action for Happiness and from other inspiring projects, such as Museum of
Happiness and the Gross National Happiness Centre.
So, if you feel passionate about how we can build wellbeing
together; in our own lives, in wider society and in harmony with
the natural world, then you can learn more and book your ticket today!