According to a recent study, the key to our survival as a species is the survival of the kindest, not merely the fittest. Thus, having kindness as the dominant trait in a person would be key to both evolution and personal successes. Another recent study reveals that mixing both mindfulness and positive psychology would result in optimized well-being and elevate one’s compassionate trait and resistance to stress and negativity.
With resistance to stress and negativity, we can be our best selves, hence being a “super human,” who can achieve many things and be useful to society. With minimal stress and negativity in aggregate, assuming billions of individuals are also in this state of mind, civilization can progress positively.
Now, let’s discuss the theory of “survival of the kindest,” what mindfulness and positive psychology are, their benefits, how they’re linked with each other, and how to integrate them in life to eliminate stress and negativity.
Survival of the Kindest
According to Dacher Keltner, the director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Laboratory, in his book, Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, the evolution has crafted the human species that comes with remarkable tendencies toward generosity, kindness, reverence, self-sacrifice, and play. They play important roles in survival, gene replication, and smooth functioning.
Despite the misconception that violence, competitiveness, and self-interest were the natural state of human beings, which were responsible for our evolution, Charles Darwin, on the contrary, had a different understanding. Darwin argued that human beings’ tendencies toward compassionate social instincts were stronger than the instinct of self-preservation. Otherwise, our species would have been extinct already, which says a lot about the survival of the kindest.
The Link between Mindfulness and Positive Psychology
According to Vago and Silbersweig in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience:
mindfulness is a trait or mental state involving intentional focusing of the attention on an object, like breathing, while observing thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they emerge in the present moment.
Mindfulness itself is beneficial to health in five ways: attention regulation, increased body awareness, emotional regulation, emotional-exposure regulation, and changes in the perspective of the self.
Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the positive traits that enable individuals and communities to thrive. It was pioneered by Martin Seligman in 1998 and was also co-initiated by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi and Christopher Peterson. This new field of psychology isn’t based on pathology model. Instead, it’s based on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives by cultivating their best selves.
The practice of mindfulness is used as one of the tools of positive psychology, as it has been linked to increased positive feelings, a greater sense of coherence, improved quality of life, greater empathy, greater satisfaction in relationships, and more hope (Vago and Silbersweig, 2012). Other tools include gratitude journaling, reframing from negativity to positivity, self-compassion, and listing personal strengths.
Another link between mindfulness and positive psychology is that mindfulness increases well-being and positive mental qualities, including compassion. Mindfulness-based meditation has been used in compassion training, which would result in increased sensitivity to one’s self and others’ needs. By being empathetic, we would be more motivated to help others. In return, this facilitates greater compassion and gives us feelings of joy and satisfaction. In other words, they create a circle of joy (Cebolla, 2017).
Integrating Mindfulness and Positive Psychology in Life
Once we’ve been able to create and close the positive circle and repeated the process in loops, negativity and stress would diminish over time. It’s probably something like the antithesis of depression. Thus, it allows for optimized activities, both in quality and quantity.
It might sound like a utopia that combining mindfulness and positive psychology would make us “super humans.” However, many educators are already teaching mindfulness in elementary classrooms worldwide.
Studies have shown that mindfulness taught since childhood would do more than increased positivity, greater compassion, and diminishing stress and negativity. It would also help with focus, emotion regulation, engagement, and future career satisfaction, which would solve many problems.
You can begin with integrating mindfulness meditation, walking meditation, gratitude journaling, reminding ourselves of our strengths and positive traits, self-compassion, and reframing negativity with positivity. It doesn’t require any money to begin, just a motivation to start and turn the activities into a lifelong habit.
As Einstein once said:
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
We’ve found the answer. With greater positivity and compassion, the world’s problems can be solved. And it starts with one person: You.
Cebolla, A., Enrique, A., Alvear, D., Soler, J., and Garcia-Campayo, J. Contemplative Positive Psychology. Psychologist Papers, 2017. Vol. 38 (1), pp.12-18.
DiSalvo, David. Forget Survival of the Fittest: It Is Kindness That Counts. Scientific American.
Keltner, Dacher. Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life
Vago, D.R., & Silbersweig, D.A. Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART): a framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2012, 6, 296.