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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 02/01/2008 | 1 Comment

I was so pleased when Mick Jackson, of Wildhearts in Action, was voted Scot of the Year. I wrote a blog about Mick a few months ago and also wrote a few pages on him in Creating Confidence. His idea to create a stationery company where all the profits go to benefit humanity – particularly children in the third world – is not only innovative but inspiring. It was also refreshing to hear an acceptance speech where the focus was genuinely on the person’s passion and purpose.

Jackson is an interesting and inspiring man for reasons other than Wildhearts. While climbing K2 one of the sherpas in the party took ill. Jackson was told that he would just have to be left to die on the mountain but Jackson carried him on his back for four days so that he could get hospital treatment.

As human beings we are all aware of how we can feel inspired, moved, touched or whatever by others' positive actions. However, psychology has spent little time examining such feelings. The positive psychologist Johnathan Haidt recounts that he spent eight years studying disgust without ever thinking about what the opposite of disgust might be and what it feels like. He now uses the term ‘elevation’ to describe the feeling we experience when we see or hear of people doing something which manifests humanity’s ‘higher’ or ‘better’ nature. His research shows that people report actual physical sensations as part of elevation. People say they get a specific feeling in their chests or warm, pleasant, tingling feelings. Feelings of elevation also leads people to want to help others themselves, or do something worthwhile. This is different from the simple positive feeling we get when we are happy. Haidt reports that feelings of happiness energise people but often in a self-interested way. Feelings of elevation, by contrast, lead us to want to help others.

An inspiring thought for the new year.
Comment By Comment
Stephanie
Joined: 06/01/2008

Comment Posted: 06/01/2008 22:29
It is indeed inspiring!

Encouraging to see this sort of thing happening when there is concern that we are losing our philanthropic nature and concentrating more on profit, consumption etc. Although I think there are issues with trying to always emphasise what people get out of doing the right thing (see my blog on stewardship and management on BizFace), it is helpful I think to remind people that this can make you feel good both physically and mentally.

I suppose it is a form of altruism, which evolutionary psychologists have argued about for some time (in what ways might this be of advantage?) but that again perhaps misses the point - doing the right thing is good for us in many ways.

Keep up the good work Carol,
Stephanie
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