Learning and Sharing


on May 13, 2018

Elevation is a social emotion. It is the positive feeling that one experiences after seeing an act of altruism, virtue or human beauty.  I received the following article from the parent of one of my clients with the question, “Do you have any recommendations for videos or movies that we can watch together as a family to give A. opportunities to experience the feelings of elevation and compassion?”

I was amazed to learn from reading the article that Thomas Jefferson described the emotion of elevation 200 years ago.  Witnessing unexpected acts of kindness, courage or compassion can make us want to help others, give unconditionally and become better people.  Jefferson wrote, “When any…act of charity or of gratitude is presented to our sight or imagination, we are deeply impressed with its beauty or feel a strong desire in ourselves of doing charitable or grateful acts also.  Observing good deeds can “elevate” our bodies and minds, opening our chests and hearts”.

There is a series of Thai commercials on YouTube that will make you “feel all the feels”.  The one posted below shows how one young man gives without any expectation of getting something in return.  What he does get from his altruistic acts is something money cannot buy.  He gets emotions, witnesses happiness and feels the love.  It is a perfect example of what my client’s mother is seeking to help to inspire her son to become a compassionate, caring young adult.



I have started using these video clips during therapy sessions with A.  The following books by Dr. Anna Vagin have helped me to construct a framework for discussions and social/emotional learning.



The following video clip prompted a lovely lesson on the Ripple Effect.

A. is hoping that his Bar Mitzvah project will create a ripple.

I have found that it is much easier for A. to describe what he is thinking as we watch the video clips. With some help from me to dig deeper, he is beginning to use his words to express the feelings.  His mother reports acts of kindness that she is observing (without the response, “What’s in it for me?”).  I think that he is beginning to understand that not all rewards are tangible and kindness is unconditional.

My best,


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