Meeting Notes

Next Meeting scheduled April 10th from 7 PM to 9 PM at the Collaboratory in the Strawberry Creek Design Center, 1250 Addison St. Berkeley

Meeting 3 – Minutes:  March 20, 2013

(Thanks to Linda Hartstrom for preparing the minutes)

The monthly GGSC Member Meet-Up was held on Wednesday March 20th from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.  This meeting was held at our new, larger location is at the Strawberry Creek Design Center. Tony opened the meeting with a two minute meditation.

Ice Breakers

Kim Cohn Wilks’ led the group in a playful exercise to introduce the attendees to each other.


Jay Cross made a presentation on how to develop a practice of happiness.  His introductory slide contained his personal purpose:

“My calling is to make people happy.  Millions of people.  Particularly people in the rat race we call business.  They deserve more fulfilling, inspired lives.”

He presented research findings on happiness and a number of models of happiness. One included the “Determinants of Happiness – 50% is genetics, 10% circumstances and 40% up to you.”

The model that Jay developed is JFDIM which stands for:

  • Joy
  • Flow
  • Dent in the universe
  • Interaction
  • Mindful

In closing Jay requested that anyone interested in discovering “what is your dent in the universe” to contact him at

General Discussion

Tony opened a general discussion on happiness and suggested the following topics:

  • How does one search for happiness
  • What are your “on ramps” to bringing more happiness into your life?
  • When do you feel the most alive, what energizes you, what inspires you?
  • Self compassion

 Attending members offered the following comments:

  • How important is it for me to be happy?  Is it selfish or not?
  • Savoring moments of awe-staying with it for more time.
  • Berkeley’s waving man was being celebrated on March 22-for 20 years (1972-1992) Mr. Charles stood on the corner of Oregon and MLK (north bound traffic) and waved with a white glove and wished everyone “Have a good day”.  He died 13 years ago but his fans would be gathering for his 103 birthday.

Jay suggested that since the group was still evolving, it might be worthwhile to identify a focus for the group, define more succinctly, with more clarity, our purpose for meeting.

Kim noted that our focus, as set forth in meeting one, was of exploring the “Core Themes” from the GGSC web site – Gratitude, Relationship, Altruism, Compassion, Empathy, Forgiveness, Mindfulness and Happiness.

A general discussion included the desire for skill building practices, fun and entertainment and education.  It was suggested that it might be possible for the Greater Good “fellows” who are working on projects to make presentations on their work.

Tony also suggested that smaller groups of members could meet on other nights to explore related interests, such as a book club, meditation group, etc.

In closing, Jay reminded everyone that a website has been created for use by the members of this group.  Tony agreed to send out an email with the URL to that website.  He will also include a survey requesting information on what the members ultimately want from this group-to help us determine our purpose/mission.

Meeting Two – Minutes

February 12, 2013
(Thanks to Linda Hartstrom for preparing the minutes)

Our second meeting offered more fun and embodied learning, and more substance on emotions and the practice of happiness, with a review of Richie Davidson’s research on the six neurologically-observable dimensions of emotional styles and a discussion of “on-ramps” for integrating new information into your way of life.

The second GGSC Member Meet-Up was held on Tuesday Feb 12th from 7:30 to 9:30 PM at the Berkeley office.  Nine members attended.  Tony Thayer prepared an agenda and discussion topic and facilitated the meeting.  As a reminder of our shared sense of purpose, he opened with the following quote, which is the mission statement of the GGSC:

“We study the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teach skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.”

The meeting opened with two minutes in meditation, which allowed us to become present and grounded.

Experiential Learning

As she had done so successfully in the first meeting, Kim Cohn Wilks guided the group in two different exercises.  In the first, each individual was asked to physically place themselves somewhere on a continuum between two different beliefs regarding “happiness.”  Those who believed that happiness is genetic were asked to be at one end, those who believed that they had control over their happiness and/or can create happiness were at the other end.  All the others distributed themselves somewhere in between.  This led to a lively discussion of how each of us defined happiness.

The second exercise required each participant to make eye contact with one other individual and then shake their hand.  Next we were requested to make eye contact with a different person and give them a “high five.”  Next we were asked to make eye contact with a third person and give them a “fist bump.”  And last we were to make eye contact with a fourth person and give them an elbow bump.  We then were asked to proceed thru all four actions in proper sequence-making eye contact and physical contact with the same four people.

These activities were very energizing and appeared to be very effective in removing some of the social barriers that exist within any newly formed group.

Note:  neuroscience research shows that friendly physical contact activates the release of oxytocin (considered the bonding hormone). Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory suggests that eye contact (social gaze) activates the Social Engagement System and builds feelings of connection and safety.

Group Discussion

The nights discussion topic was-Emotions and the Practice of Happiness. We discussed how emotions serve both as a foundation for – and an obstacle to – building a happier life.  Tony suggested that we share any “On Ramps” we have developed to incorporate more happiness into our lives. Perhaps, he said, we can look for more to help others incorporate the latest findings of the neuroscience of well-being into their lives.

Tony provided the following information from Richie Davidson’s book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live–and How You Can Change Them. Davidson defines Six Emotional Styles. (These are listed in the chart at the end of the minutes).

In his role is as an emotional detective, Davidson has found that there are 6 dimensions of emotional style and that everyone has elements of each of them. Each of these has a specific, identifiable neural signature.  So, if we believe the only aspects of emotions that have scientific validity are those that can be traced back to events in the brain, these six completely describe human emotional style.

He calls these the 6 ingredients in the recipe for each person’s emotional makeup.

  • Emotional style is why one friend serves as a wellspring of solace to everyone in her circle while another makes herself scarce when her friends or family need sympathy and support.
  • It is why some people can read body language and tone of voice as clearly as a billboard while to others these nonverbal cues are a foreign language.
  • And it is why some people have insight into their own states of mind, heart and body that others do not even realize is possible.
  • These dimensions allow people to find their inherent emotional patterns and then re- evaluate their lives and revise their emotional patterns. With practice and awareness, these new strategies can be re-wired into the neural pathways of their brains

The group discussed how this related to compassion, empathy and facial expressions and facial recognition.

General business

  1. GGSC Ambassador Outreach Program

A need has been identified for a few volunteers to be trained to provide information and presentations to the community on the material and services offered by the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC).  A slide presentation and a script would be provided.  Anyone interested please contact Elena Brunckhorst, GGSC’s Associate Director or Tony Thayer.

Scheduling of Future Meetings

A poll was taken of the membership to ensure the monthly meetings are scheduled at a time convenient for the majority of members.  The results of that poll are as follows:

      • 12 say Monday     (8 vote for 7, 4 vote for 7:30)
      • 15 say Tuesday     (9 vote for 7, 6 vote for 7:30)
      • 16 Say Wed           (9 vote for 7, 7 vote for 7:30)
      • Weeks of month (5 for 1st week, 7 for 2nd week, 7 for 3rd week, 8 for 4th week)

 Member’s webpage

Jay Cross has created/designed a website for the Greater Good Member Community

(url =

This will be one of the vehicles used to communicate upcoming events and activities and to document information relevant to the members (i.e. meeting minutes, communication guidelines etc).  Suggestions, changes and additions will be discussed at future meetings.


The group agreed that the next meeting would be held on Wednesday March 20th from 7:00 – 9:00 PM.

Joyce Kelly then led a brief closing meditation and the meeting was adjourned at 9:30 PM.

Kick-off Meeting
January 23, 2013

The First-Ever GGSC Member Meet-Up occurred January 23 at our Berkeley office.

28 enthusiastic members attended from all over the Bay Area. Despite coinciding with the first evening rainfall in weeks, “the goodwill in the room was palpable”, according to Elena Brunckhorst, GGSC’s Associate Director, who was in attendance along with Jesse Antin, Membership Director.









The gathering occurred at the suggestion of member and volunteer, Tony Thayer, who conceived of and facilitated the evening’s agenda. With his warmth and good humor, Tony noted the intention of the Meet-ups is to create an active learning community through a practice group format, embodying GGSC principles. He then gave an overview of the Meet-up process including group organization and structure. Discussion followed to address implementation of learning and communication guidelines.

Attending members gave input regarding desired future topics and roles to be held by the group. An example of this member-driven approach was in the playful, inter-active introductory exercise that opened the evening. Facilitated by member Kim Cohn Wilks, it established the “embodied intentions” from the start. Kim concluded with a brief discussion of the science and GGSC principles that informed the exercise. Suggested topics for future Meet-ups included: GGSC Core Values in the workplace; Addressing burnout and stress management; Embracing paradox and simple pleasures, and others. Various articles and films were also mentioned for discussion.




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