On Death

Neil DeGrasse Tyson talks about death. It's worth watching.

MindJamming with my pal Neil deGrasse Tyson
Posted by Jason Silva on Wednesday, January 6, 2016


This is the one life you live – may as well do it well. If you want to learn more about how to do that and how to use the philosophy of Humanism to cope with life and with death – consider taking Living Made Simpler from Humanist Learning System.

Workplace Bullying in Australia – Official Report

Australia’s government takes workplace bullying very seriously. Perhaps we should too.

Australia passed a safe workplace bill several years back and the government has to file annual reports. This is basically like America’s OSHA. They are charged with trying to keep people from being hurt in the workplace – like people falling from heights or getting lung diseases because of exposure to chemicals in the workplace.

One of the things they track, in addition to employees falling from great heights, is workplace bullying.  Australia views workplace bullying to be a seriously enough problem that their workplace safety group considers it part of their mission. For those of you in America, this is like having OSHA issue guidelines on how to reduce workplace bullying in addition to their reports on how to use explosives safely while mining. (And no, I’m not making that up – in the 2014/2015 report – Workplace bullying is on page 38, explosives and mining are on page 39 – see: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/938/safe-work-australia-annual-report-2014-15.pdf).

You may be wondering why bullying is listed among other more egregious ways people can get hurt in the workplace.  Well, it has to do with workplace culture and the impact workplace culture has on health and safety issues.  That and the fact that workplace bullying causes psychological harm that can be quantified.

So – here’s the link. First off, workplace bullying is harmful and causes an amazing amount of lost productivity. But that’s not what I want to talk about here. What I want you to get out of this post is that when people are being bullied, they are less likely to report health and safety hazards.

This isn’t even about whistle blowing. If an employee goes to their manager to report a problem, a real problem that will have health and safety implications and the manager responds to them as if THEY are causing problems by alerting people to the problem, employees learn very quickly that the manager doesn’t want to know or deal with this.

If the manager starts treating the employee who reported a problem badly to “punish” them for causing problems, well – everyone in the workplace notices and understands and gets the message. Health and safety isn’t important in this company. Speaking out will get you in trouble.

Want to know how things like the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster happen? The Deepwater explosion killed 11 people, injured another 16. This wasn’t simply an environmental disaster. It was also a health and safety disaster.  And it was caused, by a workplace culture that didn’t tolerate people bringing health and safety problems to the attention of their managers.  When problems were brought up – they were ignored.

Want to ensure you have a safe workplace, make sure your employees aren’t being bullied by managers who don’t want to be bothered with problems because they know, their bosses don’t want to be bothered by problems and so on up the chain of command to the very tippy top.

Is workplace bullying a leadership problem?  Yes. Yes it is.

Want to learn how to get it to stop? Take one of my courses at Humanist Learning Systems.

Are happiness days a good idea?

I think setting aside a day to contemplate happiness is worthwhile, but with a caveat.

The pursuit of happiness is important. But… pursuing happiness doesn’t lead to happiness. What happens is people mistake pleasure for happiness, pursue pleasure and then get themselves into trouble.  Additionally, the pursuit of happiness as a goal, when you don’t end up feeling happy, can cause a lot of feelings of inadequacy.

You don’t experience happiness by seeking it. Happiness is something you experience in in hindsight: when you think about things. Mostly, we experience it when we feel like we are getting the business of living right. Helping others is one of the best ways to become happy. When you extend yourself to others in compassion, actively by doing things to help them, you are likely to experience happiness as a result. It feels really good and you feel good about yourself.

The Humanist approach to happiness is to focus on being a good person & doing good in the world. Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life, that without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. By doing so, we become happy.

There is a formula to this. To be happy we need to be free. To be free, we need to have control. Freedom (and lack of stress) is a result of the amount of control you exercise over your life. In order to exercise control, you have to be responsible enough to make good decisions that benefit yourself and others. Your freedom cannot come at the expense of others.

For this reason, we Humanists focus A LOT on how to make good decisions. After all, you have to live with the consequences of your actions. The more you can make good decisions about how to act, the more control you have over your life and the more freedom and happiness you will experience. The effect is cumulative. Every good decision you make makes your life a little easier, a little less stressful and a little bit better. Magnify that effect over the myriad of decisions you make daily. Regarding your food choices or entertainment choices, and who you hang out with and whether you drive while drunk or not. And those little decisions add up to either increased levels of satisfaction in life or decreased levels of satisfaction.

This is why a commitment to self education is so important. You can’t make good decisions if your information is bad.

To recap. If you want to be happy, commit to living life fully (with all of its ups and downs). Love other people. And leave the world a better place. You best accomplish that by actively practicing compassion for yourself and others and through making good informed decisions.

To learn more - check out my book: The Humanist Approach to Happiness

Good Leaders Check Their Biases

We all have biases. We all have things we prefer and things we dislike. The problem is that biases cause us to have blind spots.

We overlook problems in things we like and see problems where they don’t exist in things we don’t like. There is a term for this. It’s called rationalizing. Deciding why you like or don’t like something after we’ve decided that we like or don’t like it, whatever it is.

We see this most clearly in the political realm where political opponents and their supporters are flinging mud every which way – even onto things they say they support, if their opponents like them. This is why – changing your mind in politics – is called flip flopping.

In the real world being able to change your mind is a good thing. It helps you avoid problems and solve problems when they arise. Reality and truth matter when you are solving problems. Your biases prevent you from seeing the truth. So, a good leader understands their biases and checks them to ensure they don’t interfere with decision making.

This is harder to do than most people realize because, as it turns out, a lot of our biases are unconscious. We don’t even know we have them! We rationalize our decisions without even realize we are doing so. Even people who pride themselves on not being biases or bigoted do this.

The only way to counteract these biases is to become aware of them. Fortunately, Harvard’s Implicit Bias Project has some free online tests you can take to find out what your hidden biases are so that you can come to terms with them and start working on fixing them. See: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

For people whose job requires them to treat everyone they meet fairly – which is pretty much everyone in the workforce, but especially those in hiring and management – you need to understand how your unconscious biases are impacting your behavior towards others.

We have systemic problems with discrimination in this country. We discriminate against the disabled and old people. We discriminate because of people’s skin tone and weight. We discriminate against people because of their sexuality or sexual expression and because of religion and ethnic.

The problem is so bad we have enacted laws to stop it. And still the problem persists and infects every area of our social lives (hiring, education, law enforcement, health care access and more).

Very few Americans think they are part of the problem. Other people discriminate. They don’t. The reality is we all do this. We all have these biases. If you truly want to help be part of the solution, find out what your biases are so that you can stop acting on them, consciously.
 Uncovering and Controlling Your Unconscious Bias

To learn more about the science of this and how you can use this information to improve your own behavior and responses so that you aren’t accidentally part of the problem take this free online course – Uncovering and Controlling Your Unconscious Biases at: https://humanistlearning.com/controlling-our-unconscious-bias/  It takes about 2 hours to complete and includes the free online implicit biases tests. And if you want to take this for self study credit – we do offer letters of participation.

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