What is the mind?

According to Dr. Dan Siegel, and based upon decades of research, the concept of “mind” does not simply refer to what the brain does – rather, it is embodied and relational.

Relationships are at the core of how we share energy and information with other people and the world around us. Therefore, the mind doesn’t just respond to social signals; it is constantly emerging and is influenced by relational connections.

What does this mean for educators and parents who are working with young people? It means that we are wise to continue to promote strong relationships in the learning process. Our sense of self is constantly being shaped, and often by how others perceive us. It means we are right to be focusing a lot of effort around Social-Emotional and Academic Development (SEAD, per the Aspen Institute’s National Commission – also commonly referred to as SEL).

Dr. Dan Siegel is the author of Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human and several other books, including Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain.

In this podcast, Dr. Dan makes science practical and draws connections to the work of Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth.  For example, he talks about what can happen when we emphasize serving others. Dr. Dan says that when we build upon Dweck’s concept of growth mindset and serve others, that act of service actually fuels passion and builds perseverance (or, what Angela Duckworth calls grit).

Dr. Dan Siegel heads up the Mindsight Institute, which seeks to promote well-being and bring science to life. Follow him on Twitter @DrDanSiegel.

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