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Empathy: What it is and why it matters

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Empowerment
Empathy: What it is and why it matters

EmpathyCoverArtDavidHowe

David Howe – author of Empathy: What it is and why it matters – joins Lou Agosta on A Rumor of Empathy for a conversation about empathy. David begins with the idea that empathy humanizes people and their relationships. Empathy is about our shared humanity.
This includes but is bigger than the idea that an experience or feeling is communicated for the one person to the other. Without the other person, one loses one’s humanity. One is left without vitality, aliveness, or energy. In short, needs the other person to be fully alive.
When all is said and done, empathy makes us better and should be promoted in child, adults, and community. It is not that anyone else ever thought that empathy made us worse as persons. That would be silly. Yet Heinz Kohut emphasized the aspect of empathy as a scientific form of data gathering about other persons that is value neutral and precisely ambiguous as to its social relevance. As Kohut famously said, empathy is “vicarious introspection,” in which one has a vicarious experience of the other’s feeling as if one were in the theatre or cinema. Thus, accordingly empathy could be mis-used as exemplified by the “empathic” Nazi who used it the better to control, dominate, and manipulate the would-be victims. Such misfirings and misuses or empathy remain a risk – and a point of debate – and presumably motivate the need for the explicit development of positive empathy in children, adults, and the community. This raises the question of whether empathy can be taught at all. Howe definitely advocates trying. My thought in this regards runs along lines sketched out by Carl Rogers about psychotherapy in general. With a few exceptions, people are naturally empathic and have to be inhibited, limited, and constrained. Much of education teaches compliance, rule following, and conformity, not necessarily cooperation and individualism. Therefore, the “training” in adults consists in removing the inhibitions towards openness and communication, allowing the empathic tendencies to resume their natural unfolding and development. Resistance to empathy may seem counter-intuitive, yet is pervasive and a source of resignation and cynicism. In the cases of children, presumably education should be attentive the ways empathy is inhibited and suppressed in order to produce conformity and compliance where the latter are not really needed. By all means, keep one’s hands to oneself and respect boundaries. But be open to empathy in navigating across the boundaries between self and other in a way consistent with integrity and completeness. Speaking personally as the author of three books on empathy, this is the book that I wish I had written. I hasten to add that my own works are excellent and everyone should read them, too, but Howe provides an accessible read is also rigorous and that will be relevant to a general audience. When all is said and done, when all the diagnostic categories are attached and philosophical arguments completed, in empathy, one is simply in the presence of another human being.

 

Replay for this episode of “A Rumor of Empathy” is now Available on VoiceAmerica Empowerment Channel.

Spring ReBirth & Book Bash Blow Out!

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Empowerment

2015-EY Banner @ 300dpi

Welcome to the rebirth of spring!

Last Month was National Reading Month. One of our BTSYA volunteers,Alex Pawlakos, spent many hours doing research on literacy rates in our nation and unfortunately, found that illiteracy is still a major problem. U.S. Department of Education research shows that more than 60 percent of America’s prison inmates are illiterate and that 85 percent of all juvenile offenders have reading problems. Two-thirds of America’s children living in poverty have no books at home, and the number of families living in poverty is on the rise. Three out of four food stamp recipients perform in the lowest two literacy levels and 90% of welfare recipients are high school dropouts.
Thirty-three percent of 4th grade public school students are at or below the “Basic” level of reading tests. Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average—a gap of 74 points. Families play an important role in their children’s reading success and access to books is a critical investment in the future of our children.

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On Saturday, April 25th, Be the Star You Are!® is hosting a Book Bash Blow Out whereby books for all ages will be deeply discounted. We hope you can attend, but if you can’t consider buying a case of books to donate to an organization, school, or library to help get books into the hands of those who need them most. All sales are tax deductible donations to Be the Star You Are!® charity and when you spend $19.99 or more, you’ll be given a FREE book. Thanks to 5 A Rent A Space for collaborating in creating this event and to our sponsor, Brooks Olbrys and Children’s Success Unlimited. Read more about this fun event below. Register for FREE.

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On Saturday, May 9th, visit the Be the Star You Are!® booth at the Moraga Faire where we will be celebrating mothers and sustainable living. After the Moraga Faire, our volunteers will begin a gigantic book distribution to several charities.
To support this effort, donate here.

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Be the Star You Are!® has once again been nominated as a Top Non Profit for 2015. We are grateful for the honor and thankful for our team of dedicated volunteer stars. Read more HERE. Thank you for all of your very kind remarks. Our goal is to empower our volunteers as well as help the people we serve. EVERYONE COUNTS!

Our two radio shows are hopping with incredible guest experts, authors, and celebrities. Make sure to tune in to our teen program, Express Yourself!™ every Tuesday at NOON PT on Voice America Kids hosted by our talented youth and to StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® every Wednesday Live from 4-5pm PT hosted by Heather Brittany and myself for upbeat talk on the Voice America Empowerment Channel.
Enjoy spring and we look forward to seeing you at one of our events. If you’d like to sponsor an upcoming event, shoot me an email. My virtual door is always open.
Cynthia Brian
Founder/Executive Director
Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3
PO Box 376
Moraga, Ca. 94556
www.BetheStarYouAre.org
www.BTSYA.org
Cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org

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Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.

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But I Want to Be An Artist!

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But I Want to Be An Artist!

BeingHere_HiRes_BookCover

But I Want to Be An Artist!
An excerpt from Being Here, Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment
By Ariel & Shya Kane

One fall, my husband, Shya and I held one of our business courses called “Transformation in the Workplace,” in New York City. Folks from all different fields were there to discover what it takes to experience wellbeing on the job, and how to effectively communicate. As the weekend progressed, we got to hear each person’s individual reasons for attending and what they hoped to achieve.

As we spoke with Charlotte, a soft looking man in his mid-forties, Jonathan, sat up straighter in his chair. He was totally engaged in the conversation and since we had read his confidential questionnaire, we knew what he was grappling with.

When our conversation with Charlotte concluded, Shya asked who wanted to speak next. Without missing a beat, Jonathan leapt to his feet shouting out, “I do.” He grinned and folks chuckled at his exuberance.

“My name is Jonathan and I work at a large bank, running a bunch of their computer systems. I make a lot of money there, but I’m not happy. See, I’m a professional clarinet player, and I find that working during the day exhausts me and ruins my playing.”

“How so?” Shya asked.

“Well, Shya, at the end of the day I’m too tired to practice. I play my clarinet but most of the time it’s lackluster and I make mistakes. I know if I wasn’t so worn out from working at my ?*$%^&# job I could play better. I go to gigs now and I’m uninspired. I’m thinking of quitting the bank but I have a family to think of and the money is so good and I have a 401K but I don’t want to sell out for money. I want to be the artist that I know I am!”

As he spoke, Jonathan had worked himself up, his face flushed with passion. Others in the room were nodding as the professional actors and directors in the room could empathize with how day-to-day work gets in the way of being artistic. You could see it written on their faces, If only I could just act rather than have to get jobs, then I would be happy.

“How is the quality of your playing these days Jonathan?” Shya asked.

“Stale, Shya,” he said sadly. “Stale.”

“Well, Albert Einstein once said that you can’t solve a problem from within the system that created it,” Shya continued. “It sounds as if your possible solutions to your dilemma, stay and be stale or leave your job and forfeit benefits, will both result in creating problems. With transformation there is no down side.”

“I have a suggestion for an experiment,” I said. “But it will involve taking a risk. Are you ready?”

“Oh, yes!” he replied. It was obvious from his face that he hoped we would finally give him the permission he had not granted himself to chuck the job and his responsibilities to his family. Then he could go for being a full time musician at last. His eyes glowed with anticipation.

Shya and I glanced at each other and I continued, “Here is what we suggest. For the next two weeks, forget about your clarinet. Put it away.”

“Let go of all thoughts of being a musician,” Shya said.

Jonathan’s face fell and he looked ready to fight. He was sure we were just like his parents who didn’t want him to go for his truth. He thought we wanted him to do the sensible thing, the boring thing, the nine-to-five thing. He opened his mouth to protest as I finished the thought.

“…and at the end of these two weeks, see how this has improved your ability to play and how much it enhances your abilities as a musician.”

Jonathan repeatedly opened and closed his mouth in disbelief. “Wait a minute. Ariel, Shya, are you suggesting not playing for two weeks as a way to improve my musicianship?”

“Yup, exactly,” I said. “What do you have to lose? Are you willing to give it a go?”

Jonathan nodded slowly. He looked confused and he wasn’t sure what good it would do but he was willing.

“That’s great, Jonathan,” I said. “When you get home, put your clarinet in its case, and put away your music, your music stand and everything you associate with playing and practicing. For the next two weeks, pretend that your clarinet and your skills as a musician do not exist. You may think about it at first but if you find your mind wandering there, bring your attention back to what you’re doing. OK?”

“Absolutely, I’ll do it!” he pronounced with the same kind of enthusiasm he had demonstrated in the first place. The course continued and came to its natural conclusion. Two weeks quickly came and went and then Jonathan joined us once again for one of our Monday Night weekly seminars, but this time there was a bounce in his step and a glimmer in his eye.

At the first opportunity Jonathan stood and spoke. I noticed he was standing taller and looked more grounded in himself.

“I am so excited,” he announced. “Two weeks ago, Ariel and Shya gave me the weirdest, neatest, strangest, most inspired suggestion I have ever had in my life. I’ve been playing the clarinet since I was a child but for the past few years, particularly the last six months, there was no joy in it for me. I came to the Kanes’ business course hoping to find a way to bring some life back into my playing as I feel like I’ve been doing everything by rote lately.

I was shocked when they suggested that I put the clarinet and all my music away for two weeks and pretend it didn’t exist. I mean, I’m a pro! What kind of professional lets it slide for two weeks and expects to be able to play well?”

At this he grinned, “Ariel, Shya, I got my music and stand and clarinet out of the closet yesterday. It had been two weeks and a day! They were all so familiar and yet so new. I was excited to be able to pick a song and test the reed and I realized that I hadn’t felt this kind of spark for a long, long time. My fingers flew. Music flowed out of the tips of my fingers and the tone was so pure and I played for an hour without stopping and it seemed like just a moment had passed. All I can say is Wow! And, thank you both.”

“How was work the past two weeks?” Shya asked.

“It’s a little embarrassing how well I did. I guess I’ve always held a piece of myself back at the bank. I know it sounds irrational but it seemed that if I succeeded there I might get stuck in a 9- to-5 job and I might lose my creative juice. I’ve always been holding back with the hope of being an artist.”

“Are you an artist and did your work these past two weeks take away from that?” I asked.

“Yes, yes I am an artist and no, working at the bank didn’t take anything away. In fact, I got things done far faster than I ever thought possible this past week. I created new solutions to some old programming problems that we’ve been having for a while now. Even my boss noticed the difference. He stopped at my workstation yesterday and thanked me for a new piece of software I wrote. That has never happened before.”

“See Jonathan,” Shya said. “If you hold back your full expression of yourself in one area, you gradually get dimmer in all areas of your life, including or maybe especially in those areas you’re trying to protect. Life is like a magnificent river and it takes energy to stop the flow. Going about your life with excellence in your ‘day’ job turns it into a brilliant experience and it then becomes a creative act. As you go about your life with totality you become an artist wherever you go and whatever you do.”

The Gift of Acceptance

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Kids

Express Yourself! brings you a stimulating program based on a chapter from our award winning book Be the Star You Are! for Teens.

asya 1st day of school Henna Hundal 2

Even superheroes have flaws, even great literary characters have foibles. We have to learn to accept both our strengths and our weaknesses in order to live fulfilling lives. In this powerful show, hosts Henna Hundal and Asya Gonzalez give you the tools you need to appreciate the gift of acceptance. The teens interview entrepreneur and actor Jake Johnson, who started his first family business venture at age eight. Now in high school, Jake was recently named the winner of Warren Buffett’s “Grow Your Own Business” challenge. In addition, Diana Zimmerman, an author, businesswoman, humanitarian, and performer known as the “World’s Foremost Lady Magician”, gives insight on how to break free of insecurities and embrace your uniqueness. With star guests and stimulating conversation, this show sheds light on the importance of knowing yourself, being yourself, and accepting yourself.

Guest bios:

Jake
Jake Johnson is a young teen who enjoys playing soccer, football, while running cross country and track and playing piano!Jake Johnson started his acting career at the age of seven. he is best known for his role of “young Ricky” on “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and for his role of Lucas Moran for six seasons of Lifetime’s “Army Wives”. At the age of 8, he and his sister Lachlan started their first business called Flipoutz: A silicone bracelet that held coins that kids could track and trade online at Flipoutz.com. Because of this new business venture they were featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, as well as PBS Biz Kids as well as being nominated for ChiTAG’s Young Inventor of the
Year! Jake was recently named the winner of Warren Buffett’s “Grow Your Own Business” challenge.  After selling Flipoutz, Jake went on to start a new business called Beaux Up, which is an edgy twist on the classic self-tie bow tie that has two interchangeable bow tie halves on a unique clip.

Diana Zimmerman:

Diana Zimmerman

Diana has been a performer, entrepreneur, and businesswoman since the age of eight when she invested all of her resources into a small magic trick. With a total capital outlay of 47 cents, she parlayed her investment into a spectacular 25-year stage and television career that earned her the title “World’s Foremost Lady Magician.”
Diana’s transition from magical performer to the high-powered world of corporate business saw the creation of CMS Communications, Intl.,an award-winning Marketing Communications agency. Today, Diana is considered an expert on Brand Strategy, and her newest book, Why Most Branding Fails—What Stansilavky Knew, will be out in the Spring of 2015. She was recently invited to be a keynote speaker at Wharton School of Business’ Leadership Conference. Diana’s books include her award-winning series, “Kandide: the Secret of the Mists”, “Kandide: The Lady’s Revenge, and Kandide: The Flame is Fleeting.

Listen at Voice America Kids Radio

Photos, descriptions, links, and listen at Star Style Radio
Listen to all broadcasts at ITUNES

Express Yourself! Teen Radio is produced by Cynthia Brian of Starstyle Productions, llc as an outreach program of Be the Star You Are! charity. To make a tax-deductible donation to keep this positive youth programming broadcasting weekly to international audiences, click HERE. Dare to care!
Thanks for supporting teens!

Be the Star You Are! charity. It’s the Season of Giving Make a donation today. Buy books and shirts HERE.

Starstyle, Be the Star You Are, and Miracle Moments are registered trademarks of Cynthia Brian

New Book Release

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Business
New Book Release

TSOE BOOK Cover

On Friday, February 26, 2015, Ronald Baker and Ed Kless released The Soul of Enterprise: Dialogues on Business in the Knowledge Economy exclusively on Amazon Kindle. The book is based on the VoiceAmerica top-rated radio show of a similar name, The Soul of Enterprise: Business in the Knowledge Economy, available exclusively in Amazon Kindle format. Further, links to many of the ideas, definitions, books, and other interesting things we cite have been added to create a complete digital experience. For more information about TSOE Click Here.

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