Emiliana Simon-Thomas: The Science of Human Goodness

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“Biologically, we’re built to dedicate ourselves to each other.”

Emiliana Simon-Thomas is the Science Director at the Greater Good Science Centre at the University of California Berkeley.

She is one of the leading authorities uncovering the deep roots of human goodness and she specialises in the biological underpinnings of prosocial states like compassion, kindness and empathy and how they benefit wellbeing and psychosocial functioning. Her programs are hugely popular and offered in online formats for over 400,000 people.

During this conversation we talk about:

  • Why the science of meaningful living is so appealing at this time in history.
  • The perils of feeling pressure to be happy all of the time.
  • The importance of experiencing our rich and diverse palette of emotions.
  • The limitations of holding onto the pervasive myths that paint humans as self-serving and warlike.
  • How our bodies are innately equipped for care and compassion.
  • How we can deliberating and consciously shape our experience of life.

>> Listen on iTunes | Stitcher 

Emiliana Simon-Thomas earned her doctorate in Cognition Brain and Behavior at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation used behavioral and neuroscience methods to examine how negative states like fear and aversion influence thinking and decision-making. During her postdoc, Emiliana transitioned to studying pro-social states like love of humanity, compassion, and awe. From there, she served as Associate Director/Senior Scientist at CCARE (the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education) at Stanford University, focusing on how compassion benefits health, wellbeing, and psychosocial functioning.

Today, Emiliana’s work at the Greater Good Science Center spotlights the science that connects health and happiness to social affiliation, caregiving, and collaborative relationships, as she continues to examine the potential for – as well as the benefits of – living a more meaningful life.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so feel free to share them with the community on Facebook. I always love hearing from you.


Jono x

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Jono Fisher hosts inspiring conversations with remarkable people. The highs, the lows and what fuels a kind and courageous life.

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