Chade-Meng Tan: Everyday compassion at Google
According to Chade-Meng Tan’s TED Talk, “Everyday compassion at Google,” the secret to happiness is compassion. To prove his point, the software engineer at Google introduced the audience to the happiest man on earth, a French Buddhist monk named Matthieu Ricard. Science has recently been able to quantify happiness through the measurement of a person’s “relative activation of the left prefrontal cortex” in a fMRI. In Chade-Meng’s words, Mattheiu’s fMRI results were “off the charts!” So what is Mattheiu’s secret to happiness? He practices the art of compassion.
Chade-Men Tan believes that the company he works for, Google, uses this idea to create a happy working environment. He believes compassion in the workplace brings two benefits:
- Compassion transforms a good company into a great one.
- Compassion produces an inspired workforce.
After listening to this TED Talk, it got me thinking. Why can’t we apply this simple principle into our schools? Why can’t we create happy and productive schools? Why can’t we produce inspired, compassionate students?
According to Chade-Meng, there are three ways of creating a compassionate culture in the workplace:
- Create a culture that focuses on the greater good.
- Create an autonomous workforce (give employees the freedom to be productive in compassionate ways).
- Provide “inner development & personal growth” training (teaches self-awareness, self-mastery, empathy, and compassion).
Schools can create the same compassionate culture by implementing a social and emotional learning program like MindUP. This program provides training for students and teachers to focus their attention, and improve positive human qualities (empathy, compassion, etc.). If students learn to practice these skills on one another, the school will create a culture that focuses on the greater good, and eventually create automonmous students and teachers who become productive in compassionate ways.
Additionally, the curriculum in schools should focus on global issues that allow students to practice compassion for those who are in need. For example, teachers can challenge students to find a solution to a global issue, such as poverty, and require them to research and investigate the issue. Not only will they be experts in the topic, but they will be able to understand the perspectives of others and be empathetic to those who are in need.