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!

@gingerw

@johnbishop Loved it! She reminds me of my mother, who passed in 1998 from Alzheimer's and dementia.
Ginger

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My dad and all his siblings are gone and they all had Alzheimer’s. My mom is gone but she had mini strokes which caused Alzheimer’s.

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@hopeful33250, Teresa, Volunteer Mentor, one of the kindest things anyone has ever done was a total shock and surprise to us.
We had just lost our beloved Franklin, a registered Sheltie. Advanced age took him away from us very quickly. One day he was bouncing around in the back yard, playing soccer. The next day he had great difficulty breathing.
It didn't look good. We took him to our vet, who examined him thoroughly. Shaking her head, she delivered the news we had dreaded would come. His heart was damaged. No, medicines would not help him.
He would only get worse and suffer. The decision was ours. All the kids came to love on him and comfort him. To say goodbye. He was our forever Friend and companion. How could we ever go on without him?
The next week, my friend showed up unexpectedly at my door. In her hands was a package wrapped in butcher paper. We sat down and I opened the package. Inside, looking up at me, was Franklin's perfect likeness. Danielle is an artist, student, administrative assistant, mother of five, and my friend.
She knew exactly what we needed to heal. Now, a constant reminder of our loving Franklin hangs on our wall with all the other family portraits. Her random act of kindness made us understand that there are many different ways to show kindness.

Mamacita

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@mamacita

@hopeful33250, Teresa, Volunteer Mentor, one of the kindest things anyone has ever done was a total shock and surprise to us.
We had just lost our beloved Franklin, a registered Sheltie. Advanced age took him away from us very quickly. One day he was bouncing around in the back yard, playing soccer. The next day he had great difficulty breathing.
It didn't look good. We took him to our vet, who examined him thoroughly. Shaking her head, she delivered the news we had dreaded would come. His heart was damaged. No, medicines would not help him.
He would only get worse and suffer. The decision was ours. All the kids came to love on him and comfort him. To say goodbye. He was our forever Friend and companion. How could we ever go on without him?
The next week, my friend showed up unexpectedly at my door. In her hands was a package wrapped in butcher paper. We sat down and I opened the package. Inside, looking up at me, was Franklin's perfect likeness. Danielle is an artist, student, administrative assistant, mother of five, and my friend.
She knew exactly what we needed to heal. Now, a constant reminder of our loving Franklin hangs on our wall with all the other family portraits. Her random act of kindness made us understand that there are many different ways to show kindness.

Mamacita

Jump to this post

@mamacita What a lovely example of loving kindness! Yes, kindness can take many forms and are always appreciated. Thanks for sharing that lovely story. I'm glad that you still have Franklin with you!!

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