November 4, 2013 - This fall the UA’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences presented the first annual Downtown Lecture Series at the Fox Tucson Theatre. The one-hour lectures, presented by UA faculty, have been held on Wednesday evenings for five consecutive weeks in October and November. The series shares research happening at the UA through an exploration of topics that shape our daily lives. This year's subject is “happiness.” UA Faculty uncover the complexities of “happiness” by sharing insights from their diverse fields of study, including psychiatry, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and integrative medicine.
Two more presentations remain: David Raichlen, "The Evolutionary Link between Exercise and Happiness," and Daniel C. Russell, "Happiness - A Feeling or a Future?"
On Wednesday, October 23, Dr. Charles Raison, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Arizona, presented to more than 1,200 people at the Fox Theatre (and an additional 300 in overflow seating) on, "Compassion Training as a Path to Genuine Happiness." Raison spoke about his research on the health effects of cognitively based compassion training (CBCT).
“The best way to pursue happiness for yourself is to work for the happiness of others,” said Dr. Raison. “There’s increasing evidence that people who feel socially connected, loved and cared for have lower levels of harmful immune chemicals in their body. They live longer. They’re healthier,” he said.
CBCT, developed by Raison’s collaborator Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, is based on the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of lojong, or cultivating compassion through mind training.
Raison has studied the effects of CBCT training on different groups of people. He found that children in elementary school made more friendships after compassion training. Foster children and at-risk youth reported lower levels of stress and more feelings of hopefulness, he said.
In a recent Arizona Daily Star article
, audience members noted: “The university is doing a great service by hosting this lecture series,” said Susie Bergesen, 65, a retired social worker who assisted foster children. “It speaks to the extraordinary importance of research,” she said, noting the packed house.
“I’m very excited about this research,” said Christie Rogers, 65, a child family therapist with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. “(Raison) showed something that really works for trauma victims.”
To learn more about the research Dr. Raison is conducting at the University of Arizona, including future CBCT trainings, please visit his website
. Thanks to the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences for its lecture series
on this important topic.