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Portals to Altruism, Gratitude and Forgiveness

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1 Portals to Altruism, Gratitude and Forgiveness
Empathy and Egotism Portals to Altruism, Gratitude and Forgiveness

2 Why help other people? Many students enter psychology because they want to “help people.” Perhaps difficult family life. Role model helped them through. Want to do the same for others. Never bother to explore motivation.

3 Portals of Empathy and Egotism
Forgiveness Gratitude Altruism Egotism Empathy

4 Altruism Behavior aimed at benefiting another person.
Pure altruism: no expectation of return. Anonymous donation to charity. Reciprocal altruism: expectation that favor will be returned. Give and offer rides to get cars repaired.

5 Egotism Motive to pursue some sort of personal gain or benefit through targeted behavior. We care for people because it helps me to do so. I help because it benefits me. Helping out son because it reflects well on you when he gets good grades.

6 Egotism-motivated Altruism
Feel good about ourselves for helping out. Escape the sense of guilt for not helping. Gratitude expressed by recipient. Public praise and recognition. May not plan on any of these outcomes but getting them reinforces behavior. Important that society recognizes altruism.

7 Empathy Emotional response to the perceived plight of another person.
“in+suffering” Aimed at improving another person’s well-being

8 Empathy Motive Altruism also springs from empathy.
Caring more likely if understand the person and his/her plight. Breakdown “us versus them” barriers. Shared life experiences and expectations. Ex: understand disability through simulations (e.g., blindfolds, earplugs)

9 Gratitude Latin gratia Grace, gratefulness
Gratitude emerges when one realizes another has behaved in a way that was 1) costly to him or her 2) valuable to the recipient 3) intentional act. Finding benefit in an experience.

10 Cultivating Gratitude
Emmons and McCullough Students asked to keep journal of either 1) neutral events 2) daily stressors 3) events for which they were thankful.

11 Gratitude Journals Students who kept gratitude journals superior in
1) amount of exercise, 2) optimism about the coming week, 3) better feelings about their lives. 4) also more likely to help another person.

12 Gratitude scale (McCullough)
1) I have so much in life to be thankful for. 2) If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list. 3) When I look at the world, I see much to be grateful for. 4) I am grateful for a wide variety of people. 5) As I get older I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events and situations in my life. 6) Very little time goes by before I feel grateful for something or someone. 1=strongly disagree (4 neutral) to 7 strongly agree.

13 Gratitude’s reward Gratitude rewards both the giver and receiver.
As receiver, great to know someone appreciate effort. As giver, good feeling in sharing your gratitude.

14 Forgiveness Forgiveness is the excusing of a fault or offense.
To pardon another person, a situation or oneself.

15 Benefits of Forgiveness
Increased prosocial motivation in cases where another person caused hurt: 1) less avoidance of offending person and less desire to harm him/her. 2) increased desire to act positively towards offending person.

16 Describing Forgiveness
Robert Enright: forgiveness is “a willingness to abandon one’s right to resentment, negative judgment, and indifferent behavior toward one who unjustly hurt us, while fostering the underserved qualities of compassion, generosity and even love toward him or her.”

17 Transgression Narrative Test (Berry, 2001)
1. Someone you occasionally see in a class has a paper due at the end of the week. You have already turned this paper in, and your classmate asks you to lend him or her your paper for some ideas. You agree, and your classmate simply retypes your paper and hands it in. The professor recognizes the paper, calls both of you to her office, scolds you, and says you are lucky she doesn’t put you both on academic probation. Image yourself in such a situation and rate how likely you are to forgive the person who borrowed your paper.

18 Transgression Narrative scoring
1 = definitely not forgive 2 = not likely to forgive 3 = just as likely to forgive as not 4 = likely to forgive 5 = definitely forgive

19 2. A fairly close friend tells you that he or she needs some extra money for an upcoming holiday. You know a married couple who needs a babysitter for their 3-year-old for a couple of nights and you recommend your friend. Your friend is grateful and takes the job. On the first night, the child gets out of bed after your friend has fallen asleep watching television and drinks cleaning fluid from beneath the kitchen sink. The child is taken by ambulance to the hospital and stays there for two days for observation and treatment. The married couple will not speak to you. Imagine yourself in such a situation and rate how likely you are to forgive your friend.

20 3. A friend offers to drop off a job application for you at the post office by the deadline for submission. A week later, you get a letter from the potential employer saying that your application could not be considered because is was postmarked after the deadline. Your friend tells you that he or she met an old friend, went to lunch, and lost track of time. When your friend remembered the package, it was close to closing time at the post office and he or she would have had to rush frantically to get there. Your friend decided that deadlines usually aren’t strictly enforced, so he or she waited until the next morning to mail the package. Imagine yourself in such a situation and rate how likely you are to forgive your friend for not mailing the application on time.

21 4. After high school graduation, you start a new job, and it turns out a former classmate works there, too. You think this is great; now you don’t feel like such a stranger. Even though the classmate wasn’t part of your crowd, there’s at least a face you recognize. You two hit it off right away and talk about old times. A few weeks later you are having lunch in the cafeteria and you overhear several of your coworkers, who don’t realize you are nearby, taking about you and snidely laughing. You discover that you old classmate has told them about a high school incident of which you are deeply ashamed and did not anyone to know. Imagine yourself in such a situation and rate how likely you are to forgive your old classmate for telling others your secret.

22 5. A distant cousin calls you one day and asks if he can stay with you while he looks for a job and an apartment. You pick your cousin up at the bus station and spend several hours reminiscing about childhood experiences. The next day you give him some advice on job hunting and leave for work. That night you come home to find him in an argument with a neighbor. Your cousin is drunk and out of control. Before he has time to recognize you, he throws a bottle at you, cutting the side of your head. The police take your cousin away and you have to get stitches at the ER. The next afternoon he calls from the police station to explain that, on the previous day, he had been very upset about being turned down for three jobs. He’s very sorry and says it was not like him to act that way. Imagine yourself in such a situation and rate how likely you are to forgive your cousin.

23 Forgiving the Debt Recovery from trauma. Infidelity or gambling.
Impact stage: Rampage of negative emotions. Meaning stage: Try to understanding what has happened, extent of the loss. Recovery stage: Recapture a sense of control over their lives.

24 REACH (Worthington) Recall the hurt and nature of the injury.
Promote Empathy in both partners. Altruistically give the gift of forgiveness. Commit verbally to forgive the partner. Hold onto the forgiveness for each other.

25 Forgiving Oneself Feelings of guilt or shame.
Need to release resentment towards oneself or a perceived wrongdoing. Self-absorbed thoughts and feelings interfere with positive living. Help client take responsibility for act and then let go. Move forward in life.

26 Cycle of Altruism Giver Recipient Others Altruism Gratitude
Forgiveness Increased likelihood of moral behavior Empathy/Egotism Reciprocity to source person

27 Eight steps towards a more satisfying life
Sonya Lyubomirsky (Univ. California) Arrived from Russia at age 10 Fascinated by all the smiles that greeted her in the US. Inspiration for research. Eight steps based on the research of herself and others.

28 1. Count your blessings Keep a gratitude journal.
3-5 things for which you are currently thankful. From mundane to magnificent. Once a week. Vary your entries. Sonya Lyubomirsky

29 2. Practice acts of kindness
Both random and planned. Checkout line and dinner to an elderly neighbor. Kindness to others causes a cascade of positive effect. You feel more generous and capable. Greater connections with others. Reciprocated kindness blooms. My Religion is simple. My religion is kindness The Dalai Lama

30 3. Savor life’s joys Pay attention to momentary pleasures and wonders.
Sights, sounds, smells. Nature or a great conversation. Take “mental photographs” of pleasurable moments to review in less happy times. Michigan sunsets.

31 4. Thank a mentor Someone in your life to whom you owe a debt of gratitude. Guiding you at one of life’s crossroads. Express your appreciation. In detail and in person, if possible. Telemachus and Mentor from the Odyssey.

32 5. Learn to forgive Let go of anger and resentment.
Write a letter of forgiveness to a person who has hurt or wronged you. Forgiveness allows you to move on rather than ruminate.

33 6. Invest in friends and family
Time and energy. Wealth and status contribute little to well-being. Biggest contribution comes from strong personal relationships.           

34 7. Take care of your body Sleep, exercise, diet. Smiling and laughing.
Laughter a great stress reducer. Natural mood elevator. World Laughter Tour. Laughter yoga.

35 8. Develop coping strategies
Stress and hardships happen to us all. Can’t always go around but can get through it. Sense of control, predict, duration. “This too will pass.” Spirituality can help.                                                  

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