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"Praise the fools" - Ravi Shankar

The book Notes for the Journey Within - Essential of the Art of Living (2023) is a compilation of knowledge sheets written between 1995 to 2022 by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. (cavalierhousebooks.com)


Entry 22. Praise the Fools, March 22, 2002, Rishikesh, India

"Praising the fool is beneficial to society!

A fool, when pleased, might stop doing harm and start doing good work. In this sense, It's wise to praise fools as they need motivation. Your praise is meaningful when it's directed toward a fool.

The wise, by their very nature, will continue doing good work because their attitude doesn't depend on someone's praise or blame. It serves no purpose to praise a wise person because your praise will have no impact on him.

There are three types of people -- the wise, the crooked, and the immature.

The wise continue doing good work, whether scolded or praised. The crooked ones need to be praised to get them to do good work. The immature, however needs to be both praised and scolded from time to time."

- Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (cavalierhousebooks.com)


I heard something slightly similar except from a physiology perspective - people who are low in dopamine may need a drill sergeant coaching them towards making progress. Jack Kruse, in a podcast interview with The Power Couple who teach about reducing EMF and other topics.

  • Dr. Jack Kruse: How to optimize health in the EMF Age, March 15, 2024, (Substack)


Dopamine can increase our feelings of confidence, courage and creativity. Addiction occurs as we seek more dopamine stimulation and tolerance to old levels of stimulation can lead to riskier behavior as we seek bigger thrills. A drill sergeant or authoritarian leader might give the needed direction until the person is healthier and has more inner direction.



Low iodine levels may also play a part in lack of interest in life - apathy or listlessness can be a symptom of hypothyroidism and iodine deficiency. Autoimmune antibodies can be a factor in thyroid problems too and gluten would be the likely culprit. Depression or anxiety may involve lack of magnesium and fatigue can involve low iron and or low B vitamins. Enough protein and sunshine are needed to support magnesium and vitamin D metabolism which also help with mood and energy level.



We all like some encouragement and praise. Maybe we should go ahead and praise others without rating which of the three types of people they are ("the wise, the crooked, and the immature", - Ravi Shankar, (cavalierhousebooks.com)).


Perseverance and self control, and the brain's dACC.*

Remembering positive feelings may help motivate us to continue working for a goal, (1, 2) and that might be the point of emotions - motivation.


Emotions may help with perseverance and adaptability. Pride with completion of a task or receiving a reward and changing strategies as previous methods no longer gain the same reward may have to do with the interaction of the memory of previous experiences and feelings, and current physical feelings. 

     Inputs from our thinking, our feeling, and our motion detecting areas of the brain all may be processed together within an area of the brain called the dorsal Anterior Cingulate Cortex, or dACC. It has connections with emotional, cognitive, and motor areas of the brain. The dACC does seem to be involved with recognizing and processing feelings. Damage to that area of the brain can cause a person to become apathetic, with fewer positive or negative emotions such as excitement, happiness, or sadness. (2/3)  

     The reason why we have emotions may involve their help with learning and modifying strategy to improve results or receiving a positive reward for the amount of effort required. The dACC area of the brain seems to be involved with correcting behaviors that caused errors or responding to cues that lead to correcting strategy before errors occur, (2) in other words preventing and/or fixing mistakes.

     The dACC area of the brain also seems to be involved in recognizing the relative value of a reward. (2) We feel good when our practice pays off with a valuable reward, such as climbing a tree and picking a piece of fruit - valuable in a wilderness survival setting at least. The size of the signal seems to be context dependent rather than only based on the value of the reward. (2)      The same reward might have different level of feeling based on how difficult it was to obtain possibly. Climbing a tree skillfully and picking a piece of fruit early in the harvest season might generate more of a brain reward signal than gathering a similar piece of fruit from the ground during peak season. 

     Damage to the brain area caused an inability to change behaviors that were no longer generating the same reward, (2) - so if this area of the brain is damaged, someone might continue climbing the tree even once the fruit wasn’t in season. Why would anyone want to continue to climb the tree? - with a damaged dACC then the habit to climb the tree can no longer be readily changed even though the reward no longer exists. 



Self control is thought of as a skill controlled by the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the front part of the brain, however the dACC also seems to be involved in self control, with switching strategies as rewards change and persisting with strategies when rewards are something worth working for. (2

"In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm. In the real world all rests on perseverance." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Gaining a reward tends to increase dopamine levels and would be interpreted as a positive or happy feeling. Serotonin, melatonin, oxytocin, norepinephrine, and endorphins are also involved in feelings of happiness. The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline may also affect happiness with stable, lower levels being more associated with positive mood, (4) suggesting some levels of stress can be positive and motivating but too much can reduce positive mood. Just the right amount of stress to motivate, without too much to overload.

     Higher levels of happiness have been associated with longer life, healthier lifestyle habits and fewer risky behaviors, so happiness may be its own reward. Happiness may also be an indicator of what is healthy, (4) and a motivation for health. 

     Serotonin was mentioned in the last episode as a neurotransmitter associated with happiness and with health - lack of infection or stress. (31, 32, 35) Good magnesium levels might help promote serotonin levels. (36)


So what is the motivation of emotions? Or is the point of emotions, motivation?


Maybe they are to help motivate us towards health - positive happy feelings worth working for. Cooking a healthy meal, getting out for a walk, think of the good mood you also gain as a bonus.


Is is wisdom of foolishness to think positively and to look for things to praise in the world around us? It may be wise to praise people more often - according to Ravi Shankar we would be helping to provide motivation for two out of every three people


  • *Excerpt from the Intro section of the Perseverance and Self Control episode of How Are You Feeling? Links to the audio and the references are in this transcript. (Google Docs)


Disclaimer: This information is being shared for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use and is not intended to provide individual health guidance.



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