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5 REASONS STORIES CHANGE US AND WHY OUR BRAINS LOVE THEM

Researcher Paul Zak has spent the last several years searching for the reasons stories "can move us to tears, change our attitudes, opinions and behaviors, and even inspire us—and how stories change our brains, often for the better."
His work reveals that:
1) Stories engage emotions, imagination and information all at once, which is
why we can easily give our full attention to a well-told narrative;
2) The art of a storyteller is in the ability to increase and sustain the tension through the entire tale. When we to relate to the struggles and challenges of the story's main character, we can better understand our own and learn about how someone else got through them.
3) Stories bring brains together. There is an effortless and important empathic connection developed through listening to others' stories and being listened to when we tell our own. Neuroscience shows that this connection is what makes human beings able to collaborate in all the ways that allowed human begins…

Science Provides The Best Argument For Taking An Improv Class: We Are All Creative "Types"

Creative experiences are like Lindt's truffles: rich in variety, supplying a dopamine rush that signals "reward" to the brain- just enough reward to give a sense of satisfaction and trigger interest in going for another. While chocolate will always stand as one of life's greatest pleasures, the right "dose" of creative experience has a stronger -and longer-lasting impact. Plus its calorie-free. And no sugar hangover. And that is because with creative experiences we have to work harder and take on more of a challenge to achieve that burst of dopamine than we do biting into a delicious treat. Some facts about the brain, from neuroscience research about creative experiences published in Science Educator:
Because of its underlying adaptation for learning, it grows and reshapes itself in response to challenge, or withers through lack of use;It prefers to search and discover patterns for itself through active learning;Its capacities increase in direct relationshi…

The Improviser's Mind Set - imaginative thinking for solving unimaginable problems

"If the future is uncertain, best learn how to improvise. Find out how by looking at how actors and jazz musicians do it." Mary Crossan, Organizational Dynamics


   The scene is an improvisation training intensive with Gary Austin, founder and original director of the Groundlings improvisation group in LA. Just being around him fills me with an uncomfortable combination of awe and anxiety, but at the moment anxiety is winning as I recognize his intensity matches his brilliance. My emotions are focused on one thing: getting through a scene without embarrassing myself, nothing more. I approach my scene partner, whose only instruction from Mr. Austin is to sit at a table. My instruction is to open the scene with a single line that informs my partner who we are to one another.  I walk towards my partner holding an imaginary note pad and ask "Are you ready to order or do you need a little more time?" 
"I'm ready to order," he responds, "but what I'd …

CHANGING MINDSETS THROUGH APPLIED IMPROVISATION-Hand-out for the workshop presented at the 2014 World Conference of The Applied Improvisation Network, Austin, TX

“Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it.”   Simone deBeauvoir

An individual’s mind set has been found to be a powerful driver of perceptions about self and others as well as one’s capabilities and place in the world."They guide the whole interpretation process," according to researcher Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

The perspective of a “fixed” mindset is that innate intelligence and talent are more central to successful learning and change than effort and commitment. Dweck's work demonstrates that we can develop what she calls a “growth” mindset – centered in the belief that our most basic abilities can be enhanced through hard work and dedication, “that brains and talent are just the starting point.”  Research shows that even seemingly small social-psychological interventions that target limiting, self-negating thoughts and feelings can lead to deep, sustain…

Every Time A MindSet Changes, An Angel Gets An Upgrade

Its the holidays and time for repeated viewings of "Its A Wonderful Life" a movie about George Bailey, a generous man with dreams that are thwarted by world events and his own good nature who helps a novice angel get his wings. To do this George must experience what the world would be like if he had never been born, which reveals to him an entirely different way of seeing his very existence and the impact of his choices.  It is a story about mindset, how a creative experience - especially one that opens up a new way of seeing - can change it and how that shift in perception takes the same set of facts and redefines them. 
 This film still has currency but the world it depicts is gone forever because of technology. And as a person old enough to remember public phones and having to wait for the mail, I experience each new wave of technology the way George Bailey responds to that angel - with resistance and an irrational but very potent mocking skepticism. I usually start ou…

Applied Improvisation For Emotional Intelligence & Stress-Resilience - Sept. 13, 2014 workshop handout

"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play."                 
Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher
GAMES, EXERCISES AND SCENE WORK 
Color/Advance: Objectives: Social-emotional engagement between trainer/teacher and group;Overcoming communication barriers;Experience a dynamic interplay between trainer/teacher and group;This version of “color-advance” is appropriate for a teacher or trainer to use in the context of explaining some new material or information than for participants with one another, although a variation of it is used with participants – including kids or teens – which is described below. Using “color-advance” a storyteller or speaker can interact with a group while delivering the material in a way that empowers the group to ask for clarification or move ahead to the next point. The speaker begins, and group members can say only one of two directions:
"Advance" which means move to the next part of the story or point;
"Co…