October 26, 2016

News You Can Use: #BornToBeGood

Chronically Awesome News You Can Use

born to be good

Why have all of your #ChronicallyAwesome friends been posting pictures of themselves doing good things and challenging their friends to do the same? It is called the #BornToBeGood Challenge, and while it is nothing like the Ice Bucket Challenge, it is intended to make you feel good, and here is why.


There is a long-held misconception that Charles Darwin thought that we evolved by “Survival of The Fittest.” The strongest of the tribe, the members bestowed with the most apparently strong genes would breed, would survive, would create stronger and stronger humans.


Survival of The Fittest” was a term coined by Herbert Spencer. Spencer wrote about social evolution and had a different philosophy than the man most believe founded evolution.

When Darwin wrote about evolution, he was writing of a different kind of survival. Darwin was an observer of animals. When he saw animal groups caring for their young to protect and preserve their “tribe,” Darwin realized that mammals evolved via “Survival of The Kindest.”

Darwin’s thesis was “We are a profoundly caretaking species.” In fact, what is our best skill? Sympathy. To learn about this in detail, watch this brief video.

In his book “Born to Be Good,” Dacher Keltner (again, see the video above), teaches us that humans are biologically built to be kind. By watching human and animal behavior, he (and Darwin) saw facial expressions, care gestures, and ways that we nurture our young that showed that we are loving (sympathetic) beings. In the video below you will learn about studies of the brain and the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve starts at the base of the skull and travels down through the body.

As people who are Chronically Awesome, knowing about the vagus nerve can be helpful. (Read more here.)

When presented with photos of people who are suffering, something incredible happens in our body. The body responds with sympathy. It is this kind response that we hope to replicate in our challenge. If you see someone doing something good will you feel empathy? To get started you will need two things: a camera (your phone will do), and some act of goodness or kindness for your community or an individual.

Here is why:

In the study, subjects looked at images of people who are suffering. The response was one of deep empathy.  These empathy studies and other, similar tests show that we are, indeed, built to be kind.

This brings us to our challenge. In the video, we learn from Dacher that when we see others hurting that “mirror neurons” are activated. We have learned that when we see others suffering that our vagus nerve is activated and we feel sympathy.

What will happen to you when you see people helping people? We are not only a helpful and empathetic species, but the Chronically Awesome are a particularly empathetic, helpful, giving group of people. We are a group that has been bound by the circumstance of illness to stick together, to be strongly united. From charity walks, church activities, peer counseling, donating to charity and much more, we do a lot.

What would happen if we each posted an image that represented our caregiving and empathy and then challenged some friends to do the same? If you tag your image with #BornToBeGood and #ChronicallyAwesome then more people will see what we are doing and want to join in, will feel the desire to help. (If it helps, save and share the Born To Be Good image above to explain the project.)

And, if you are not feeling well, remember, getting out there to help will help you before you ever snap or upload that shot. Kindness heals.

Please post your image and tag it #ChronicallyAwesome and #BornToBeGood with a brief description of what you did. If others are in the image please get permission from them or their parents before posting them. If you can, use Twitter or Instagram. Tag three friends who you challenge to do the same. If there is a way that others can help the charity or group in your photo, let us know!

Let’s see if we can grow the good out there! Let’s get our good on!


(Note: If you would like your photo to appear on the Chronically Awesome website please email it to contact@chronicallyawesome.org)


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