Loving Kindness: Live Healthier and Happier

I received a Mayo Clinic email newsletter and I just wanted to share this article with you all.

How sharing kindness can make you healthier & happier. Can simply sharing kindness on a regular basis help your health? Research says yes, in more ways than you might guess.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You've heard the uplifting stories: Passersby dropping scads of cash into charity collection buckets or anonymous donors paying off hospital bills for strangers. And people helping victims during storms and natural disasters. These acts of kindness make everybody feel good.

There's a science behind that phenomenon called "loving kindness." And research shows that learning and practicing loving kindness can profoundly affect your attitude, outlook and even your health.

Better yet, you can rewire your brain to be more present and kinder to others, giving your mood a daily boost. These three simple practices will help get you started.

1. Loving-kindness meditation (LKM). LKM is a quiet, contemplative practice that focuses thought on your heart region and encourages warm, tender thoughts, possibly about a loved one. In one study, people who practiced LKM an hour a week felt greater positive emotions — love, contentment, joy — while interacting with others.

Documented health benefits of practicing LKM include:

Reduced pain and tension from migraines
Reduced symptoms of depression
Possibly slowing the aging process. Studies have found that women who practice LKM have longer telomeres, which are like little end-caps on your DNA. Shorter telomeres have been associated with faster aging.
Maybe the best news is that even small doses of LKM can help. One study found that a 10-minute session of LKM increased feelings of social connection and positive feelings toward others.

2. Acts of kindness. This one's so simple: Intentionally set a goal to be kinder to others. Express sincerely felt kindness to a co-worker. Make a special effort to extend kind words to a neighbor. Hold the elevator for someone or take time to help a loved one.

As you spread your kindness, you might just experience what research has confirmed: Generosity can be contagious.

Why? The act of helping others actually activates the part of your brain that makes you feel pleasure. It also releases a hormone called oxytocin that helps modulate social interactions and emotion — the higher your oxytocin levels, the more generous you may be.

Food for thought: Reportedly, one person in Winnipeg, Manitoba, picked up the tab for the next car in line at a coffee-and-sandwich drive-through. This inspired the next person to do to the same. The chain continued for an astonishing 226 customers!

Seems like research supports the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The kinder you act toward others, the better you will feel.

3. Focus on gratitude. Do you feel grateful for the good things in your life? If not, it's time to start.

Researchers have found that feelings of thankfulness can help improve sleep, diminish fatigue, increase confidence and even lessen depression. One way to increase your feelings of gratitude is to start journaling.

Keeping a gratitude journal — just writing down things you're grateful for — has been found to actually improve biological markers that indicate heart health. Don't want to carry a notebook? There are plenty of phone apps that can help you express gratitude or share happy moments.

Like anything else, engaging in loving kindness gets easier with practice. Try thinking positive thoughts about people in your life. Write down the things you're grateful for this week. Set aside 10 minutes to meditate. You may just find a happier, healthier you.

As all of you have shown much kindness and caring for each other, I knew you would appreciate these thoughts and that you would have great stories about kindness. So, let's take some time to share!

Could you share how you practice a loving kindness meditation? Is it through your art, your words, phone calls or notes that you write to others?
Will you share Acts of Kindness that you have either received or given?
Gratitude: How do you focus on gratitude? Do you keep a journal, do you acknowledge gratitude when you see and hear it in action?

I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Mental Health Support Group.

@jenniferhunter

Ginger, thank you. The voice is a lovely instrument. Listening to someone who can sing beautifully accapella is wonderful. I sang in a church choir for awhile. I find singing helps me feel good and lifts my spirits, and anyone can do this. Like the line from the Carpenter's song… "Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear… just sing…sing a song….."

Jump to this post

@jenniferhunter

I love that Carpenter's song, it's one of my favorites! I had vocal cord surgery several years ago to deal with a paralyzed vocal cord and after that a speech therapist suggested that I sing as part of a plan to keep my vocal cords strong. So I joined a therapy choir. As you have interest in the arts as way of healing you might enjoy this information about Therapy Choirs of Michigan, http://therapychoirs.org/

Here is an article from a local newspaper about one of the exceptional members of the choir, Gary Francis, https://www.hometownlife.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/08/09/inspiration-look-farmington-hills-listen-singing/104370448/ I assist Gary is getting "gigs" at local softball games where he sings the National Anthem and at assited living facilities where he sings the oldies music (and the residents sing with him). I call myself his agent, however, there is no money involved, just the fun of helping.

Gary Francis is an exceptional example of someone who is singing for the health of it~

REPLY
@hopeful33250

@jenniferhunter

I love that Carpenter's song, it's one of my favorites! I had vocal cord surgery several years ago to deal with a paralyzed vocal cord and after that a speech therapist suggested that I sing as part of a plan to keep my vocal cords strong. So I joined a therapy choir. As you have interest in the arts as way of healing you might enjoy this information about Therapy Choirs of Michigan, http://therapychoirs.org/

Here is an article from a local newspaper about one of the exceptional members of the choir, Gary Francis, https://www.hometownlife.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/08/09/inspiration-look-farmington-hills-listen-singing/104370448/ I assist Gary is getting "gigs" at local softball games where he sings the National Anthem and at assited living facilities where he sings the oldies music (and the residents sing with him). I call myself his agent, however, there is no money involved, just the fun of helping.

Gary Francis is an exceptional example of someone who is singing for the health of it~

Jump to this post

Teresa, that is so cool! I looked at the links you posted. I was using music and singing as therapy before my spine surgery to get past the fear of it. I learned to lower my blood pressure with breathing slow in time to the music, and singing does that too. I sometimes woke up in the middle of the night and put on my headphones and would sing. In the past I performed with a concert band, and we would do free concerts during the holiday season in nursing homes and I know we brought joy to people which made me feel great. When we visited my father in law with Alzheimers's in a nursing home, he sang Jingle Bells to us which I loved. It wasn't something he normally would have done, but the staff had worked with him, and he was so proud to sing it for us. Those are nice memories. All that speaks to the power of music. FYI- I love that song too.

REPLY
@jenniferhunter

Teresa, that is so cool! I looked at the links you posted. I was using music and singing as therapy before my spine surgery to get past the fear of it. I learned to lower my blood pressure with breathing slow in time to the music, and singing does that too. I sometimes woke up in the middle of the night and put on my headphones and would sing. In the past I performed with a concert band, and we would do free concerts during the holiday season in nursing homes and I know we brought joy to people which made me feel great. When we visited my father in law with Alzheimers's in a nursing home, he sang Jingle Bells to us which I loved. It wasn't something he normally would have done, but the staff had worked with him, and he was so proud to sing it for us. Those are nice memories. All that speaks to the power of music. FYI- I love that song too.

Jump to this post

Yes, music has great power. In the therapy choir I've heard nonverbal people sing solos but not speak. Really quite amazing, @jenniferhunter

REPLY
@johnbishop

@jenniferhunter, I love listening to anyone playing the piano and especially when I am at the Gonda building in the atrium area. Although I didn't see this one in person it has been one of my favorites.

Jump to this post

What a good time had by those who played, those who were lucky to be there, and all of us who just saw this! Surely made me smile.
Ginger

REPLY

I few years ago I was driving south on I-35 from the twin cities and saw this beautiful Christmas tree. It truly is a sight to behold. I recently learned the story behind the tree and it's lights.

Stunning tree of lights is gift to I-35 holiday travelers
https://www.kare11.com/article/news/local/land-of-10000-stories/stunning-tree-of-lights-is-gift-to-i-35-holiday-travelers/89-616679273

John

REPLY
@hopeful33250

@johnbishop Great story, John!

Jump to this post

Thanks Teresa. It really is an amazing tree out in the middle of nowhere. You have to see it at night though. ☺

REPLY
@johnbishop

I few years ago I was driving south on I-35 from the twin cities and saw this beautiful Christmas tree. It truly is a sight to behold. I recently learned the story behind the tree and it's lights.

Stunning tree of lights is gift to I-35 holiday travelers
https://www.kare11.com/article/news/local/land-of-10000-stories/stunning-tree-of-lights-is-gift-to-i-35-holiday-travelers/89-616679273

John

Jump to this post

@johnbishop That is a beautiful story. thank you for sharing it.

REPLY

Don't you just love throwback Thursdays ☺ I had this random act of kindness memory pop up on my Facebook feed from Dec 13, 2014

—————————-
Great start to 12/13/14 so far…

Went to breakfast at The Old School Cafe – a nice young lady was opening her trunk to carry some boxes into the cafe. Nice guy that I am, I asked if I could help her carry the boxes. Being and old guy she gave me the smaller of the boxes with 2 carry handles while she took the bigger box containing some nice bottles of wine (she must have noticed how I was walking when I got out of the car). I was able to hold the door open for her like any gentleman would and we set the boxes down on the table next to her friends. Not only did I get a big smile and thank you, I also got an awesome Merry Christmas hug from a nice young lady – made my day!

Wait that's not the end of the story! After enjoying one of my favorite breakfasts – the "downsized" Southwestern Omelet (can't eat the big one!), my wife stopped in for coffee on her break from work. When I went to pay for the bill, I was told that nice young lady took care of it. I thanked her on the way out but thought it would be pressing my luck to ask for another hug! So Mrs whatever your name is, my wish for you is to have a great day and my hope is that someone will make your day also.

That's it – time for a nap!
—————————

My wish is that if I do see her again (and remember it's her!) that I'm able to repay the act of kindness given to me. For now, I'm just keeping my neighbors kitten inside for the winter since her husband is allergic to cats. She has full visitors rights and first option to get Kitty back. Their little boy named her Kitty. She is a handful.

REPLY
Please sign in or register to post a reply.