Finally, care about what people have to say. I don't mean "appear to care" about what they have to say, I mean literally care. This is the hardest step in the process because sometimes we just don't care. It sounds callous, but it's true. Someone else's problems are just that - their problems. But, we are human beings and human beings are innately social creatures. We are hard wired to care about each other's problems because that's the only way we can survive as a species. In his book, the Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins describes how being a "nice guy" doesn't mean you have to finish last. As a part of the "selfish gene" theory, being nice can help you create connections that will allow you to remain healthy and survive potential harm in the future. Caring for someone else propagates physical and mental health and helps everyone to thrive. The trick is to override that internal voice that says "how does that affect me" by thinking how it would affect you. Imagine someone else's problem as your own. How would you react to it? How would you feel? What would you think or do? These thought exercises will help you immediately invest and engage with someone else's problems and ultimately build an empathetic relationship with them, even if they're a perfect stranger. Empathy is a powerful tool, but it needs to be sincere. Even moderately faked empathy can come across the wrong way, especially if you let it be known that you're not really paying that much attention. Imagine what someone would think if you were listening, responding and caring about their problem, only to follow up by taking a phone call and laughing about a movie you and a friend just saw. Your new acquaintance would see right through your "empathy" and probably be further insulted than if you'd just walked away to start with.

Corporate leaders are also not immune to base rate neglect. For example, auditors use bankruptcy prediction models when they decide the type of audit opinion to report. One study told auditors that a bankruptcy model had a 90 percent true positive and a 5 percent false positive rate, and that about 2 percent of all firms fail. Given this information, there would be a 27 percent probability that a firm will go bankrupt if the model predicts bankruptcy. However, the average probability estimated by audit partners was 66 percent, and their most common response was 80 percent. While these experts seem to perform a bit better than novices, they still do not appreciate the full significance of base rates when making probability decisions.10 If base rates are so significant, why do we ignore them? Representativeness is one reason. The test tells us that we have characteristics similar to people with the virus, or that a firm is similar to other firms that have failed, and so we focus on that information. But ignoring base rates could also be due to other reasons as well. Because we are storytellers, not statisticians, we think that background statistics aren't very important. But they are! So what should we do? For crucial decisions, we may want to formally calculate the probabilities. Even if we don't go through formal calculations, however, just knowing that we should pay attention to the background statistics should help us arrive at more informed judgments. At the 2000 British Open, Tiger Woods started the last day with a six-stroke lead--but David Duvall was closing fast. He sank four birdies in five holes, and was within three strokes of Tiger when the announcers exclaimed, "Duvall is on fire--it looks like he's going to catch Woods." But was it realistic to think that Duvall could keep up his blistering pace? If he kept playing at that level, he would have ended the day with a score of 59, unheard of in the world of professional golf. So it's extremely unlikely Duvall could have done it--but the announcers didn't consider that fact. In effect, they didn't take into account a statistical concept known as regression to the mean. Extreme values of any measurement are typically followed by less extreme values.

While very tall parents are likely to have tall children, those children are usually not as tall as their parents; instead, they're closer to the average height of people in general (i.e., they "regress" to the mean of the population).11 Similarly, if Duvall is making more birdies than normal now, it's likely he will regress to his average and not make them later on in the game.12 But we often don't consider that fact; rather, we think that he's on a hot streak (or he's got a "hot club"). So what happened at the British Open? Woods won by eight strokes. Interestingly, Woods started the day ahead by six strokes after playing three rounds, which means he was better than the other players by an average of two strokes a day. After the fourth round, he added another two strokes and won by eight. While the numbers don't always work out this simply (e.g., players can have a bad day, as Greg Norman found out when he blew a large lead at the final round of the Masters in 1996), it's very unrealistic to assume that a player's performance on a short sequence of holes (e.g., Duvall's four birdies in five holes) will continue throughout the match. It makes much more sense to assume that his performance will regress back to his average performance. The rules we covered in chapter 4 apply to pain just as they apply to any other mental state. You must be careful not to reach beyond the sensation and not to fall short of it. Don't add anything to it, and don't miss any part of it. Don't muddy the pure experience with concepts or pictures or discursive thinking. And keep your awareness right in the present time, right with the pain, so that you won't miss its beginning or its end. Pain not viewed in the clear light of mindfulness gives rise to emotional reactions like fear, anxiety, or anger. If it is properly viewed, we have no such reaction. It will be just sensation, just simple energy. Once you have learned this technique with physical pain, you can then generalize it to the rest of your life. You can use it on any unpleasant sensation. What works on pain will work on anxiety or chronic depression as well. This technique is one of life's most useful and applicable skills. It is patience.

It is very common for beginners to have their legs fall asleep or go numb during meditation. They are simply not accustomed to the cross-legged posture. Some people get very anxious about this. They feel they must get up and move around. A few are completely convinced that they will get gangrene from lack of circulation. Numbness in the leg is nothing to worry about. It is caused by nerve pinch, not by lack of circulation. You can't damage the tissues of your legs by sitting. So relax. When your legs fall asleep in meditation, just mindfully observe the phenomenon. Examine what it feels like. It may be sort of uncomfortable, but it is not painful unless you tense up. Just stay calm and watch it. It does not matter if your legs go numb and stay that way for the whole period. After you have meditated for some time, that numbness will gradually disappear. Your body simply adjusts to daily practice. Then you can sit for very long sessions with no numbness whatsoever. People experience all manner of varied phenomena in meditation. Some people get itches. Others feel tingling, deep relaxation, a feeling of lightness, or a floating sensation.

You may feel yourself growing or shrinking or rising up in the air. Beginners often get quite excited over such sensations. Don't worry, you are not likely to levitate any time soon. As relaxation sets in, the nervous system simply begins to pass sensory signals more efficiently. Large amounts of previously blocked sensory data can pour through, giving rise to all kinds of unique sensations. It does not signify anything in particular. It is just sensation. So simply employ the normal technique. Watch it come up and watch it pass away. Don't get involved. so long as you leave your emotions untended and unmended. Examine the source of your anger, guilt, and fear. Don't try to filter your responses. Be honest and let them flow. Give yourself and others permission to be "only" human. A key source of runaway anger, guilt, and fear is trying to live up to standards that are unrealistic and expecting others to do the same. People are fallible, yourself included! As a person of faith, I am convinced that God loves us all and doesn't hold our failings against us. You'll take a major step in the direction of healing by following God's lead and lightening up on yourself and others. Seek out professional help.