In Born to Be Good, Dacher Keltner demonstrates that humans are not hardwired to lead lives that are “nasty, brutish, and short”—we are in fact born to be good. Antony van Leeuwenhoek changed how we look at the natural world. Born in Delft, the Netherlands, in , he came from a family of brewers. In Born to Be Good, Dacher Keltner demonstrates that humans are not hardwired to lead lives that are “nasty, brutish, and short”-we are in fact.

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Oh, and apparently Charles Darwin that Charles Darwin was really into facial expressions and did some really detailed analysis of them, which I totally didn’t know. These are people who know facial expressions like DaVinci knew anatomy, and for not entirely dissimilar reasons. The first chapter introduced the concept of jen, which comes from Eastern philosophy and means all the positive social interactions, and positive social capital. On its own it’s a moderately interesting science book on the evolution of emotions.

If you really want to read this, read the first chapter and the three I’ve cited and forget the rest. He investigates an old mystery of human evolution: Sep 23, Stephen Burns rated it liked it.

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. I’d like to see Diana Ackerman take this research and put her magic to it, maybe the Natural History of the Smile?

I enjoyed the details about the different ways in which facial expressions communicate and spread good feelings.

Born to Be Good

Aug 13, Keats Snideman marked it as to-read. Get the science of a meaningful life delivered to your inbox. Keltner correctly notes that Darwin himself first suggested this, insisting on “the greater strength of the social or maternal instincts than that of any other instinct or motive. My library Help Advanced Book Search.

Born to be good | Greater Good

Got this book, because I listened to Keltner’s lectures on emotions to psych majors at Berkeley and found them fascinating. One of the researchers he worked with is able to roll keltnef eyebrows in a wave from side to side. Keltner doesn’t believe we are happy when we act that way, and he thinks he has the science to prove it.


It took me over two years to read this book, and here’s why. I put this in more of a free-wheelin self-help category ver This book title is really misleading.

Jan 19, Carrie rated it really liked it. Read it, and then go give someone a hug.

Return to Book Page. He highlights Darwin’s work about emotions and shows how small and simple expressions and gestures enhance the well-being of others and also of oneself. To ask other readers questions about Born to Be Goodplease sign up. Born to Be Good is a profound study of how emotion is the key to living the good life and how the path to happiness goes through human emotions that connect people to one another. Dry as toast, and I still don’t get how my facial expressions make my life meaningful.

The first three chapters are somewhat startling and encouraging, and Keltner riffs on the idea that humans are not born selfish. It was written at a much more accessible and interesting level than a scholarly article, and the long discussions on emotional development was quite complementary to my field of study in social development. Its got a little bit of evolutionary biology, nueroscience, psychology; pretty cool. Totally biased, simplistic, and overly optimistic, but some of the studies presented were interesting.

Jul 02, Pradnya rated it really liked it. It is linked to our survival to be good to each other. I instead received a chapter on the evolutionary and neurological basis for embarrassment.

Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life

Great stories and a lot of greats facts. Jan 04, Diana Suddreth rated it it was ok. It was also good to learn about the vagus nerve, how men and women communicate differently through touch, and how encountering the Dalai Giod makes people feel good for days.

Fascinating stuff about the evolution of positive emotions and behaviors – why we laugh, smile, touch; how dance evolved; what our minute facial movements really mean – Darwin shows up, as does the Dalai Lama. Click here to watch the video about our newest idea, and to donate.


In fact, Darwin theorized in the 19th century that compassion was a result of natural and sexual selection.

Compassion is not a blind emotions that catapults people pell-mell toward the next warm body that walks by. Good stuff in this book. It turned out to be a pretty interesting textbook on emotions and their evolutionary origins, and how it is advantageous to be kind and benevolent. Published January 12th by W.

Robert Wright’s book “Nonzero” comes to mind in particular — Wright argues that the extension of humankind’s cooperative circle is based in mathematical game theory, and is the basis of modern civilization.

If nothing else, this book should make you feel more optimistic about the present and future state of humanity.

Keltner is a working researcher as well as daacher prosocial activist. As interesting as the research is, the book still seems like a lecture; not really entertaining. His research focuses on the prosocial emotions such as love, sympathy, and gratitudemorality, and power. Other chapter were a little dull and I found them hard to push through.

The topic is crucial and fascinating–I hope in his next popular article or book he shares the reactions of current scientists to his research and theories.

I just happened to have different expectations, making some of the passages unbearable to read. These chapters all contained lengthy discussions and details about tiny facial movements and how to distinguish between genuine and false smiles. Towards the end, it felt like a slog. Born to Be Good: