The Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life

You know the feeling when you’ve just read an excellent book and you have to share it with a friend? Well, that is the way I feel about a website that I just discovered—one that’s existed for a while but I just happened upon it, and I want to share it with the world NOW.

My recent post on gratitude lead me to this treasured site…the Greater Good Science Center . It’s housed on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, was founded in 2001, and its mission is to:

    “Study the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teach skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.”

The GGSC accomplishes their mission in a variety of ways that include sponsoring scholarly fellows across disciplines who conduct research conducive to the mission; publishing an online magazine—the Greater Good—to disseminate relevant information related to their mission and connect scientists with parents, educators, community leaders, and even policy makers.

Another vehicle to support their mission is the “Raising Happiness Blog” founded and facilitated by Christine Carter, Ph.D., which focuses on raising happy children as well as happy parents with the Great Good Parents program.  It contains parent advice and practical tips that are science based, as Carter shares research findings along with anecdotes from her own parenting trials. This blog can also be accessed here: (I accessed this link from the GGSC a day ago, but it looks like the link has changed. This link takes you to the bulk of the parenting resources sponsored by the GGSC). 

The GGSC also organizes and hosts events that bring together scientists, educators and the public. The Science of a Meaningful Life seminar series has included talks from experts on a number of topics related to a meaningful life. Such experts include Paul Ekman talking about compassion, to Jon Kabat-Zinn discussing mindfulness, as well as Barbara Fredrickson, and Philip Zimbardo to name other experts.

The Core Beliefs

Taken directly from their website, GGSC core beliefs state:

  • Compassion is a fundamental human trait, with deep psychological and evolutionary roots. By creating environments that foster cooperation and altruism, we help nurture the positive side of human nature.
  • Happiness is not simply dependent on a person’s genes. It is a set of skills that can be taught, and, with practice, developed over time.
  • Happiness and altruism are intertwined—doing good is an essential ingredient to being happy.
  • Science should do more than help us understand human behavior and emotion in the abstract; it should be applied toward improving people’s personal and professional lives.
  • Studying the roots of good, healthy, and positive behavior is just as important as studying human pathologies. To promote individual and social well-being, science must examine how people overcome difficult circumstances and how they develop positive emotions and relationships.
  • Individual well-being promotes social well-being, and social well-being promotes individual well-being. The well-being of society as a whole can best be achieved by providing information, tools, and skills to those people directly responsible for shaping the well-being of others.

Site Features

The site has a number of features that include Articles, Raising Happiness Blog, News and events, Videos/podcasts and other Resources such as links to organizations, books, and presentations from the experts. In the articles section, there are “tools for the greater good” which includes practical tips on how to live a meaningful life. One upcoming event will feature Dr. Kristin Neff (whom I quoted in a previous post) in a seminar talking about Self-compassiona and Emotional Resilience.

In the video/podcast section of this site you’ll find experts speaking on a variety of topics from Stanford’s Fred Zuskin talking about forgiveness to John Gottman talking about healthy relationship, to Jon Kabat-Zinn discussing mindfulness in daily practice and a host of others that the public now has access through due to this site.

See for Yourself

Well, enough of me raving about this site, you need to check it out for yourself.  I’m sure you won’t be disappointed .What I am really enjoying about this site is that it is opening up so many other doors to sharing goodness, good news, and over all good energy in the world! Who wouldn’t enjoy a resource like that? Time to update my links on my own site, and start more researching into mindfulness.  What aspect of life will you savor today?

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