Thursday, November 23, 2017

Interview with write Doug Carnine

Writer Doug Carnine joins me on this holiday to chat about his spiritual, self-improvement book, How Love Wins: The Power of Mindful Kindness.

During his 35-year career at the University of Oregon, Douglas Carnine, Professor Emeritus, taught about, conducted research on, and advocated for improved education for vulnerable children—the poor, handicapped, English language learners, and children of color. He has over 100 scholarly publications, has lectured around the world, received the Ersted Award for outstanding University teaching, and received the Life Time Achievement Award from the Council for Exceptional Children. He received a presidential appointment to the National Institute for Literacy and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, serving as program committee chair for three years. Simultaneously he developed his meditation and kindness practice and became a Buddhist lay minister. Since retirement, he has developed a mindful kindness project that includes a prison ministry, two books—Saint Badass: Transcendence in Tucker Max Hell and How Love Wins: The Power of Mindful Kindness and a related website.

Welcome, Doug. Please tell us about your current release.
“Be kind. It sounds simple, so why is it so difficult? Most of us recognize that being kinder and more present would not only improve our own lives and the lives of our loved ones, but also strengthen our communities and even our world. In fact, numerous scientific studies have confirmed that both living mindfully and being kind to others offer a host of benefits — from stronger relationships to longer life. Yet even if we truly care and are motivated to change, we find that old habits keep us coming back to the same self-centered cycle.

With his book How Love Wins, Buddhist and educator Doug Carnine offers another path. In this simple but powerful guide, Carnine leads the reader through a 12-step process of transformation, opening a toolbox of skills and techniques that anyone can use to live more fully in the moment and be more kind to themselves and others. A lay Buddhist minister who has worked with hospice patients and prisoners, Carnine reassures us that everyone is capable of building a mindfully kind life — and making it stick.”

What inspired you to write this book?
Personal experiences of profound kindness, scientific findings about the power of kindness, and the central role of kindness in all the world’s religions. These points are elaborated in the “CADRE speech.”

Excerpt from How Love Wins: The Power of Mindful Kindness:
The Case for Mindful Kindness
You may have read a lot about mindfulness in the media recently— for example, according to a recent article in the New York Times, mindfulness has become a “mainstream business practice and a kind of industry in its own right.” However, when is the last time you really thought about what it means to be kind? In fact, while mindfulness is a hot topic with many different meanings in the fields of spirituality, personal development, and business, you may not have had a conversation about kindness since elementary school. And yet there are good reasons why you should. Plenty of research shows that when we practice kindness, the people who bene t the most are ourselves. Acting with generosity, altruism, compassion, cooperation, forgiveness, empathy, and gratitude consistently results in better relationships, a more satisfying career, and a longer, happier, and healthier life.
That’s not to dismiss the value of mindfulness. On the contrary, this ancient practice has become popular for good reason. Mindfulness comes with its own slate of proven benefits both for our physical health (through less stress and lower blood pressure) and for mental health (including less worry about the future and fewer regrets about the past, less preoccupation about success and self-esteem, and more deep connections with others).
I like to use the word kindful to describe how we can combine being kind with being mindful. If mindfulness is how we can “be” in the world; kindness is what we can “do” in the world. Being kindful frees people from the o en-unpleasant need for distractions that can lead to addictions and violence. Spending less time with distractions gives us more time to be kind to others and to reap the benefits of that kindness. This book describes the value—to us and to society—of fusing kindness and mindfulness in all aspects of our lives. I want to show you why you should make kindness one of your life goals and explain why and how mindful- ness can help you be more kind to yourself and others. Most important is the hands-on advice for adopting habits of kindfulness and meditation that will change your life and the lives of those around you.
What exciting story are you working on next?
“My life was the result of my crazy childhood.” With these words began an extraordinary correspondence, between Roy Tester, a double-murderer serving a life sentence in the notorious Arkansas prison Tucker Max, and Doug Carnine, a professor emeritus at the University if Oregon and lay Buddhist minister on the other side of the country. In the letters that followed — more than 600 over seven years — these two men, along with three other prisoners at Tucker, developed a profound spiritual partnership that changed all of their lives. Saint Badass: Transcendence in Tucker Max Hell tells the inspiring story of these unlikely friends in their own words, and follows their journey as they rediscover their humanity in one of the most inhuman places on Earth. You can follow their journey after the book ends by going to

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started academic non-fiction writing when I was a 21-year-old junior at the University of Illinois National Science Foundation fellowship program to accelerate the training of experimental psychologists. By the time I was 27 I was middling academic writer, not becoming proficient until in my 30s. I have not yet become proficient in writing trade books such as How Love Wins; the clarity of the writing is strongly influenced by the developmental editor Ilima Loomis.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write two to three hours a day: revising this book, preparing course proposals using my two books, writing my blog, responding to emails about my books, and responding to letters that come out of my prison ministry.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am obsessed with getting feedback on everything I write and making revisions based on that feedback. I rewrote this book probably 20 times over a ten-year period.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
In 7th grade, I told my parents I wanted to be a psychology professor.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
When I first started writing this I thought that the purpose of kindness was to help others. I now realize we need to practice kindness so that our own lives will have meaning and lead to times of contentment.

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Thanks for joining me today, Doug.

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