“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.” -Dalai Lama

Other people literally become part of you.

In a study by James Coan, people in a brain scanner were threatened with shocks. The same brain regions were activated when participants learned a close friend was under threat as when they themselves were threatened. This did not occur for acquaintances.

As Mark Leary writes in The Curse of the Self: Self-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life, we literally incorporate other people into our sense of self.

Thinking about someone who is important to you, take a look at this image.

inclusion of other in self

This simple test was developed by Arthur Aron to measure the extent to which we include others in our sense of self. James Coan has found that people who, when thinking of a friend, choose a more integrated answer in this diagram also show greater activation of their self-related brain regions when that friend is threatened.

The Dalai Lama suggests that sharing knowledge is a path to immortality. Neuroscience shows us that, even further, sharing any aspect of oneself causes a physical re-wiring in the brain of the recipient to include the sharer.

Giving of yourself literally makes you immortal. Pretty cool.


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