Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Recently I was seated on a plane and noticed three families boarding with babies – all less than a year old. They sat in different sections of the plane. Shortly after take-off one of those adorable little humans started to fuss – then broke into an all-out cry. Within seconds, as you might have guessed, there was a chorus – a baby-fussing chorus.

CONNECTION: It made me laugh because, whether we like it or not, our bodies are perpetually in the connection business. It is what makes us human. To make sure we connect, mirror neurons in our brains are constantly scanning the people around us, picking up clues about their emotional state. Are they nervous? Angry? Relaxed? Once those neurons ‘read’ the situation, they automatically send signals to our bodies to align. And we oblige – automatically.

Have you ever yawned just because the person in front of you yawned? Or have you ever found yourself wincing for someone else’s stumble?

STORIES are turbo masters at building those same connections. The MVPs of bridge-building. Instead of in-the-moment action, they facilitate connections around the globe and across time. With each new story, our brains stretch into new mental models, making us more nimble. Holy white matter!

I can see it now. If there was a “Nutritional Guidelines” listing on the back of each kids book, it might say something like: 50% of minimum daily requirements (MDR) of empathy development; 50% of MDR for social skills development and 50% of MDR for identity development. Mmmmmm. Delicious.

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