How to escape the cynicism trap


How is optimism or cynicism showing up for you or in your faith community?

What are the fruits of optimism/cynicism living in your midst?

What do you feel called to do based on what you learned from the TED Talk today?



How many of us are wondering how we can more effectively connect with and care for people in our communities?

Join us as we hear from psychologist Jamil Zaki. Some days, it's hard to be optimistic. But cynicism -- the idea that people are inherently selfish, greedy, and dishonest -- is making humanity lonelier and more divided. Presenting fascinating research on cooperation, empathy, and trust, Zaki will make the scientific case for optimism and show us how to break out of the cynicism trap.

Jamil Zaki is a professor of psychology at Stanford University and the director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab. He is fascinated by human connection, what it does for us, and how people can learn to connect better. His research demonstrates that qualities such as empathy and kindness are skills that people can build through practice, like they would strengthen a muscle. He and his colleagues think of their work as constructing "empathy gyms," where they can work out their care and understanding. In the last few years, Zaki has been exploring cynicism, people's loss of trust and faith in themselves and each other. He has discovered that cynicism is a modern psychological plague that harms people, relationships, and our culture, and which is spreading rapidly. But he has also found that by understanding cynicism, we can combat it, restoring our belief in one another and working together to build a better world. In addition to his scientific work, Zaki is active in outreach and public communication of science. He has written about the psychology of empathy and kindness for the New York TimesThe Washington PostThe AtlanticThe Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker. In 2019, he published his first book, The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World, which NPR called a "wide-ranging, practical guide to making the world better."

We invite you to bring a spirit of curiosity to these gatherings and to all aspects of your life. What are you noticing? Where is Spirit moving? How are you being invited to participate?