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The Bridge to Well-Being: Basic Humanity


Like a lot of old people, I’ve thought a lot about the world I’m leaving behind. More than 30 years ago, I developed a program, thought foolish at the time, to help angry, resentful, and abusive people get in touch with their basic humanity. We called the approach CompassionPower, because people have more personal power (ability to act in their long-term best interests) when compassionate than when resentful, angry, or abusive. The program remains remarkably successful, but now, partly due to my age, I find it a more daunting task to help clients develop a sense of basic humanity in the face of the enormous volume of dehumanizing labels online and in the media.

Basic humanity is innate interest in the well-being of other people. When we feel more humane we feel more compassion and kindness and less guilt, shame, and resentment; we feel more loving and worthy of love. Basic humanity motivates respectful, helpful, valuing, nurturing, protective, compassionate, and altruistic behaviors. In adversity it motivates sacrifice; in emergency it motivates rescue.

The sense of basic humanity is narrowly focused early in life, largely restricted to caregivers. With prefrontal cortex development, it expands to kinship and tribal or communal affiliation, and with maturity it can include the entire sea of humanity. It grows with high self-value and contracts with low self-value. The only way to maintain genuine self-value (apart from narcissistic delusion), is to think and behave humanely.

Steven Stosny

The goal of the course is to make it easier to stay in touch with basic humanity when the world around us is uncooperative. The course consists of six brief Webinars, narrated by Dr. Stosny, and corresponding text sections with questions and exercises.    


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