Pay Attention, Class. . .
The biggest fear of being
K I N D
is someone will
. . .funny,
T H A T
continues to be my
daily prayer. . .
BE KIND WHENEVER POSSIBLE. IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE
Who Cares - What Matters
Pay Attention, Class. . .
The biggest fear of being
K I N D
is someone will
. . .funny,
T H A T
continues to be my
daily prayer. . .
BE KIND WHENEVER POSSIBLE. IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE
OR DO I. . .
I really like to talk
I use my mouth for a living
and the least of it
is what I do on
SUNDAY MORNINGS. . .
I talk to dozen of people every day
in a hospice setting
in talking with people about
CELEBRATIONS OF LIFE
for their loved ones
who’d like to get married
and want me to be their officiant
to my friends
to my family
to just about everyone I pass
in a store
or at the gas station. . .
if I could only be paid by the
(and I’m not even talking about the texting and emailing)
I like talking
LISTENING THING. . .
I pride myself on my
but I think it’s always worth
c h e c k i n g
DO THAT A LOT
especially when I’m feeling a little
Time Required: At least 10 minutes. Try to make time for this practice at least once per week.
Find a quiet place where you can talk with a conversation partner without interruption or distraction. Invite him or her to share what’s on his or her mind. As he or she does so, try to follow the steps below. You don’t need to cover every step, but the more you do cover, the more effective this practice is likely to be.
P a r a p h r a s e
Once the other person has finished expressing a thought, paraphrase what he or she said to make sure you understand and to show that you are paying attention. Helpful ways to paraphrase include “What I hear you saying is…,” “It sounds like…,” and “If I understand you right….”
When appropriate, ask questions to encourage the other person to elaborate on his or her thoughts and feelings. Avoid jumping to conclusions about what the other person means. Instead, ask questions to clarify his or her meaning, such as, “When you say_____, do you mean_____?”
If the other person voices negative feelings, strive to validate these feelings rather than questioning or defending against them. For example, if the speaker expresses frustration, try to consider why he or she feels that way, regardless of whether you think that feeling is justified or whether you would feel that way yourself were you in his or her position. You might respond, “I can sense that you’re feeling frustrated,” and even “I can understand how that situation could cause frustration.”
Use engaged body language
Show that you are engaged and interested by making eye contact, nodding, facing the other person, and maintaining an open and relaxed body posture. Avoid attending to distractions in your environment or checking your phone. Be mindful of your facial expressions: Avoid expressions that might communicate disapproval or disgust.
Your goal is to understand the other person’s perspective and accept it for what it is, even if you disagree with it. Try not to interrupt with counter-arguments or mentally prepare a rebuttal while the other person is speaking.
Avoid giving advice
Problem-solving is likely to be more effective after both conversation partners understand one another’s perspective and feel heard. Moving too quickly into advice-giving can be counterproductive.
After the other person has had a chance to speak and you have engaged in the active listening steps above, ask if it’s okay for you to share your perspective. When sharing your perspective, express yourself as clearly as possible using “I” statements (e.g., “I feel overwhelmed when you don’t help out around the house”). It may also be helpful, when relevant, to express empathy for the other person’s perspective (e.g., “I know you’ve been very busy lately and don’t mean to leave me hanging…”).
Often we’ll listen to a conversation partner without really hearing him or her. In the process, we miss opportunities to connect with that person—and even risk making him or her feel neglected, disrespected, and resentful.
This exercise helps you express active interest in what the other person has to say and make him or her feel heard—a way to foster empathy and connection. This technique is especially well-suited for difficult conversations (such as arguments with a spouse) and for expressing support. Research suggests that using this technique can help others feel more understood and improve relationship satisfaction.
Active listening helps listeners better understand others’ perspectives and helps speakers feel more understood and less threatened. This technique can prevent miscommunication and spare hurt feelings on both sides. By improving communication and preventing arguments from escalating, active listening can make relationships more enduring and satisfying. Practicing active listening with someone close to you can also help you listen better when interacting with other people in your life, such as students, co-workers, or roommates.
Weger, H., Castle Bell, G., Minei, E. M., & Robinson, M. C. (2014). The relative effectiveness of active listening in initial interactions. International Journal of Listening, 28(1), 13-31.
Participants had brief conversations (about their biggest disappointment with their university) with someone trained to engage in active listening, someone who gave them advice, or someone who gave simple acknowledgments of their point of view. Participants who received active listening reported feeling more understood at the end of the conversation.
Instructions adapted from: Markman, H., Stanley, S., & Blumberg, S.L. (1994). Fighting for your marriage. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Active Listening involves approaching a conversation with a genuine desire to understand the other person’s feelings and perspective, without judgment or defensiveness. When you engage in Active Listening, you tune into what your conversation partner is communicating with their words and body language. How well do you feel and understand what others are feeling? Take the Empathy quiz (at Greater Good in Action) to find out.
take a few moments to
no one will be judging you
no one will share your answers
no one will make you feel embarrassed
B U T
you just may find
that what I know
what I know I know
what I’d bet my life that I know
I don’t always ACT like I know at all
W H I C H
is why I like to do a check up
from the EARS UP
I’d like to know that when I tell you,
“YEAH, I HEAR YA”
I really do
and I’m inviting you as
A CARING CATALYST
to do the same. . .
Do you hear me?
C O M P A S S I O N
never leaves with clean hands. . .
and the only time
OUT OF THE BOX
isn’t so great
is when it’s a
s a n d b o x
. . .just how much sand
is still in your sandbox
or has it all
l i t e r a l l y
been thrown away. . . ?
is upside down
and off its axis
seemingly with no hope of
r i g h t i n g
everyone seems to be grabbing for anything
that even remotely looks like
T H E I R S
JUST WEARING A MASK
will get you labeled
and that’ll negate you
in blink-of-the-eye-quickness. . .
CASE IN POINT:
(from two acquaintances in a Facebook Discussion)
This shouldn’t be a political post, but offending people appears almost as easy as blinking these days and seems to happen with a near similar frequency.
Today I met with my neurologist via zoom. We discussed the current condition of my health and the reality that heat is a destructive force in my life. Overheating complicates my already fragile central nervous system and causes frequent pseudo exacerbations and tailspins that are difficult to describe. I won’t bore you with the details, but the Dr. told me that I can’t risk going out and being near people who aren’t wearing masks in these ongoing days of Covid. If I were to get a fever, it would be “very, very bad” for me, let’s just leave it at that.
Now I don’t know each of your views pertaining to mask wearing and, honestly, I marvel at its political ties, though I know that I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m just trying to send a reminder that some of us aren’t in a position to ponder the political angles, we are just trying to keep our heads above water and would like to not be permanently confined to our homes, where it sometimes ironically seems that we might drown for lack of oxygen.
I encourage you to think of adorning a mask as if it were an empathy enhancer, regardless of any other benefits it may or may not have.
Stay healthy, friends. One day we will hug again
I think what is interesting about this conversation is that your highly trained doctor says to wear one, but my highly trained doctor says not too. It is what makes this part of the mask conversation so hard. I too, am considered extremely immune compromised but my doctor does not believe they protect us and in fact believes they are harming us more and providing an environment for more virus to grow. I work as an essential employee, have not been sick, wear mask in limited capacity and have stayed healthy. Many doctors believe that this is why we are seeing virus transmission go up in areas that are mandating it. Also on the flip side of this, my mother, who is asthmatic and my uncle who has COPD, cant wear them without getting deathly sick. It is a unique conversation to each individual, their unique situation and their health care providers feelings on it. It should not be mandated by any government entity for that reason. I respect what your doctor is telling you for you, but it can’t be something that is mandated for everyone. We do not know each person’s unique situation which why judgement to wear or not wear should be something we as individuals should not be passing and should be an individuals decision to do or not to do based on these specific factors. What could save your life, might take my mom’s life. This is a very real thing we need to see in the true light for what it is. It does mean that many people like you can’t be out in the general population right now, but it should not mean everyone has to wear a mask because of that. If you wear one and stay socially distant, you will stay safe. I am sorry that the health factors make life more difficult for you during this time
Wendy – Thanks for a thoughtful reply. I am of the opinion that some of your examples are the exception to the rule, but none the less, thanks for addressing the argument rather than attacking the individual. Tip of the cap to you.
Playing in the sandbox without getting
G R I T T Y
is not just possible or plausible
Sand in the box
is never the problem
It’s always the sand
the seemingly unremovable sand
on the hands
between the toes
in the shorts
in the eyes
that causes the
in the sandbox
has its place(S)
in the eyes
is never one of them
Sand in the box
is never the problem
as much as
s a n d
out of the box
We are way past the time
of playing nice
. . .it’s now time
r e a c h
for the hands
c l a s p i n g
This past Fourth of July weekend, I read an article from the New York Times that tell us, Acts of kindness may not be that random after all. Science says being kind pays off. . .
And my first thought was,
“SERIOUSLY, DO WE NEED THIS RESEARCHED OUT TO FIND OUT IF IT’S TRUE; THAT IT’S REAL. . . ?”
Research shows that acts of kindness make us feel better and healthier. Kindness is also key to how we evolved and survived as a species, scientists say. We are hard-wired to be kind.
Kindness “is as bred in our bones as our anger or our lust or our grief or as our desire for revenge,” said University of California San Diego psychologist Michael McCullough, author of the forthcoming book “Kindness of Strangers.” It’s also, he said, “the main feature we take for granted.”
Scientific research is booming into human kindness and what scientists have found so far speaks well of us; especially during this pandemic time.
“Kindness is much older than religion. It does seem to be universal,” said University of Oxford anthropologist Oliver Curry, research director at Kindlab. “The basic reason why people are kind is that we are social animals.”
We prize kindness over any other value. When psychologists lumped values into ten categories and asked people what was more important, benevolence or kindness, comes out on top, beating hedonism, having an exciting life, creativity, ambition, tradition, security, obedience, seeking social justice and seeking power, said University of London psychologist Anat Bardi, who studies value systems.
“We’re kind because under the right circumstances we all benefit from kindness,” Oxford’s Curry said.
When it comes to a species’ survival “kindness pays, friendliness pays,” said Duke University evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare, author of the new book “Survival of the Friendliest.”
Kindness and cooperation work for many species, whether it’s bacteria, flowers or our fellow primate bonobos. The more friends you have, the more individuals you help, the more successful you are, Hare said.
For example, Hare, who studies bonobos and other primates, compares aggressive chimpanzees, which attack outsiders, to bonobos where the animals don’t kill but help out strangers. Male bonobos are far more successful at mating than their male chimp counterparts, Hare said.
McCullough sees bonobos as more the exceptions. Most animals aren’t kind or helpful to strangers, just close relatives so in that way it is one of the traits that separate us from other species, he said. And that, he said, is because of the human ability to reason.
Humans realize that there’s not much difference between our close relatives and strangers and that someday strangers can help us if we are kind to them, McCullough said.
Reasoning “is the secret ingredient, which is why we donate blood when there are disasters” and why most industrialized nations spend at least 20% of their money on social programs, such as housing and education, McCullough said.
Duke’s Hare also points to mama bears to understand the evolution and biology of kindness and its aggressive nasty flip side. He said studies point to certain areas of the brain, the medial prefrontal cortex, temporal parietal junction and other spots as either activated or dampened by emotional activity. The same places give us the ability to nurture and love, but also dehumanize and exclude, he said.
When mother bears are feeding and nurturing their cubs, these areas in the brain are activated and it allows them to be generous and loving, Hare said. But if someone comes near the mother bear at that time, it sets of the brain’s threat mechanisms in the same places. The same bear becomes its most aggressive and dangerous.
Hare said he sees this in humans. Some of the same people who are generous to family and close friends, when they feel threatened by outsiders become angrier. He points to the current polarization of the world.
“More isolated groups are more likely to be feel threatened by others and they are more likely to morally exclude, dehumanize,” Hare said. “And that opens the door to cruelty.”
But overall our bodies aren’t just programmed to be nice, they reward us for being kind, scientists said.
“Doing kindness makes you happier and being happier makes you do kind acts,” said labor economist Richard Layard, who studies happiness at the London School of Economics and wrote the new book “Can We Be Happier?”
University of California Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky has put that concept to the test in numerous experiments over 20 years and repeatedly found that people feel better when they are kind to others, even more than when they are kind to themselves.
“Acts of kindness are very powerful,” Lyubomirsky said.
In one experiment, she asked subjects to do an extra three acts of kindness for other people a week and asked a different group to do three acts of self-kindness. They could be small, like opening a door for someone, or big. But the people who were kind to others became happier and felt more connected to the world.
The same occurred with money, using it to help others versus helping yourself. Lyubomirsky said she thinks it is because people spend too much time thinking and worrying about themselves and when they think of others while doing acts of kindness, it redirects them away from their own problems.
Oxford’s Curry analyzed peer-reviewed research like Lyubomirsky’s and found at least 27 studies showing the same thing: Being kind makes people feel better emotionally.
But it’s not just emotional. It’s physical.
Lyubomirsky said a study of people with multiple sclerosis and found they felt better physically when helping others. She also found that in people doing more acts of kindness that the genes that trigger inflammation were turned down more than in people who don’t.
And she said in upcoming studies, she’s found more antiviral genes in people who performed acts of kindness.
What is it about this song that it touches the heart of so many of us? How did this song become such a classic moment in Muppet history?
It all started in 1978 when Jim Henson was searching for a composer to write the music to The Muppet Movie. Since being a good friend of Jim’s since his appearance on The Muppet Show, the young Paul Williams got the job. “Rainbow Connection” was written to be the song to the Muppets as “When You Wish Upon A Star” had been to Walt Disney. In many ways, “Rainbow Connection” is also very similar to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from Jim Henson’s favorite film, The Wizard of Oz (1939), which was “an opening establishment driving urge for something more.”
Rainbow Connection was the first Oscar nomination for the Muppets, at the 52nd Academy Awards. Sadly, the song lost to “It Goes Like It Goes” from Norma Rae. While the Muppets would gain various other nominations throughout the years, it would be another 32 years until the Muppets would win an Oscar for best song (“Man Or Muppet” in 2012).
The song has had over 30 covers by noted singers including Sarah McLachan, Judy Collins, the Carpenters, Weezer, Willie Nelson, Jim Brickman, Jason Mraz, and many others. It was also performed by the Muppets themselves in The Muppets at Walt Disney World, The Muppets, The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years, and many more.
For many, the song is truly about finding yourself and following your dreams. This is the beginning for most Muppet fans, and where it all started. It’s where Kermit decides to leave the swamp and make millions of people happy, and the rest is history. Another reason might just be that Muppet fans know that they now have an entire screening of The Muppet Movie ahead of them.
This song gives the same message as Disney’s Pinocchio gave, which is really in essence, to believe in yourself, and follow your dreams. It sounds a little cheesy when I explain it like that, but that’s how I feel about it personally.
At the end of the film, when Kermit builds his family of all his friends who believe in him and share his dream (after the set gets blown to pieces), a rainbow shines through the hole in the ceiling, showing that Kermit had finally found his “Rainbow Connection” and is exactly where he wanted to be.
S T I L L
. . .the real question especially during our COVID-19
hazy, crazy Fog
isn’t so much
WHEN WILL THE SUN SHINE
so much as:
What message do you think
The Rainbow Connection
is giving off
FOR YOU. . .
and maybe even more:
IS IT SHAREABLE
IS THIS SAFE ENOUGH?
What to do
When to do it
HOW TO DO IT
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO TO BE SAFE
AND TO KEEP THOSE AROUND US SAFE. . .
Buzz Sentences and remarks these days, huh?
So is this:
WE HAVE GIVEN UP ON COVID-19
BUT COVID-19 HAS NOT GIVEN UP ON US
So let’s simplify this
A G A I N
especially as we ready ourselves
for the upcoming 4th of July weekend
Journalist JILL SUTTIE with Time Magazine helps us navigate the not-so-complex into a simpler new NEW as we individually attempt to care for others enough to take COVID-19 down. . .
It’s frustrating to see people not comply with health advisories—and it’s worrying. Health experts report that wearing masks and keeping our distance are clearly effective at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Washing our hands regularly, avoiding crowded spaces, and staying home when we feel ill are also ways of supporting public health goals.
How can we CARINGLY encourage people to take these seriously, especially when it’s inconvenient to them?
Luckily, science suggests that there are many ways to nudge people in the right direction. Since we so badly need to keep this virus under control—especially once we have more freedom of movement—it becomes more important than ever to figure out what works. Here are five ways research has identified to encourage people to protect themselves and each other from the pandemic.
As a species, we humans naturally care about others’ welfare and will often act cooperatively for the benefit of our group. In fact, research shows that our first instincts in a disaster are to act “prosocially”—meaning, acting to benefit the welfare of others rather than doing what benefits us.
In a recent study from Sweden, researchers measured participants’ prosociality by having them fill out a questionnaire and play an economics game in which they could avoid exposing others to risk for their own benefit; then, they collected information about what kinds of steps participants had taken to prevent viral spread. Their findings suggest that people with higher prosociality scores were more likely to follow guidelines about hygiene and social distancing, and they were more likely to buy masks, donate, or spend more time reading about the virus.
As many of us have prosocial instincts already, appealing to that side of us might be important in a pandemic, as another recent study found.
In that study, conducted in the United States at two points in time during the viral outbreak, researchers tested different messaging to see how it affected participants’ intentions to comply with preventative measures—like washing their hands frequently, not touching their face, staying home whenever possible, or stocking up on cleaning supplies.
In the first experiment in March, they tested different messages about COVID prevention: to protect others in one’s community, avoid becoming ill or dying oneself, or protect oneself and others (a combination). A fourth message did not emphasize potential victims at all.
Results showed that people were significantly more willing to take precautions if the message focused on benefiting others, with the combined message being no more effective than the prosocial message alone. This suggests that people may be most motivated to prevent the spread of the virus when primed with concern for other people.
These results were somewhat surprising, says lead author Jillian Jordan, given that it could have gone either way. “There’s a lot of research suggesting that while people do care a great deal about themselves and are self-interested, people also care a lot about other people and those social motivations are big part of our behavior,” she says.
In a follow-up experiment within the same study—conducted a month later, as coronavirus cases spiked in the U.S.—these differences around messaging effects tended to disappear, with appeals to promoting public or personal health being equally effective. Jordan isn’t sure why—it could have been small differences in her methods or the changing national conversation around the pandemic. But, whatever the case, prosocial messaging was surprisingly robust.
“The key takeaway is that prosocial messages are no less effective than self-interested messages,” she says. “That reaffirms the idea that prosocial motivation does have some power.”
Unfortunately, there will always be people who are tempted to forego protections, especially the longer the risk period lasts. For those who are at less risk of serious illness, the temptation may be even stronger.
Researchers who study cooperative groups call these folks “free riders,” because they take advantage of others’ cooperative behavior to benefit themselves. For example, they may decide that with everyone else staying at home or wearing masks in public, they can safely go outside mask-free with little chance of infection.
“When we leave our own homes, we are looking around and noticing if other people are wearing a mask”
―Dominic Packer, Lehigh University
Unfortunately, “free riders” can poison cooperative action. After all, being “good” comes at a cost of personal freedom, and, especially in a more individualistic society, that’s a hard lift. To see other people flaunting the rules could make compliant people feel they are being taken advantage of.
How to discourage free riders and make compliance the norm?
As one of the paper’s coauthors, Lehigh University psychologist Dominic Packer, argues, we’re subtly influenced by the behaviors of those around us. So, if we are exposed to people who are generally adhering to recommended guidelines, we are more apt to adhere to them ourselves, and that behavior can spread in a community.
“When we leave our own homes, we are looking around and noticing if other people are wearing a mask or showing up to grocery stores and waiting in lines, and we’re using that to inform us about how much other people are listening to the CDC and thinking it’s a good source of information,” says Packer.
Our tendency to go along with what we see others doing depends on our personal identities, too, says Packer. For example, in the U.S., social distancing and mask wearing has been embraced more by liberals/Democrats and eschewed more by conservatives/Republicans.
“Our politics are so polarized that we don’t just look at what members of our own group are doing and say, ‘Oh, I should do that’; we also look at whatever the out-group is doing and say, ‘Well, I shouldn’t do that,’” he says.
That’s why shaming people who don’t comply with norms probably won’t work well, says Packer. While shaming can get people to change their behavior when they identify strongly with the person shaming them—let’s say, your church group telling you to wear a mask—it can backfire and increase your opposition if you don’t identify with the person shaming you.
What can we do instead? It’s important to highlight our common humanity and remember our shared moral values. If this messaging isn’t coming from national leadership, we can encourage people to remember their other, non-political identities—as Americans, parents, or community members, for example—to help the norm spread, says Packer.
In spite of political bickering, he is encouraged that the norm of being careful has spread as much as it has. Creating a new norm around behaviors like wearing masks or staying indoors—which are foreign to most Americans—is pretty remarkable, he says.
“Given that we can’t draw on prior experiences and that we’re getting a lot of conflicting information from news outlets and government authorities, the amount of behavior change we have seen in such a short period of time is truly astonishing—like, unprecedented.”
Prosocial messaging may help to keep people focused on being cooperative rather than looking out for themselves. But, with the messaging around the virus changing rapidly—and, in the U.S. at least, the messages being skewed for political reasons—it’s more difficult to keep that spirit of unified action alive.
Messaging matters when it comes to individual behavior. For example, one recent study found that when you frame the dangers from the coronavirus in economic costs rather than public health costs, people are less willing to take precautions to protect themselves or others from the virus. The study also found that when messages of precaution came from an authoritative source (in this experiment, President Trump), people were more willing to follow them than when they came from an expert source (the CDC).
This means that consistent messaging from authorities about the importance of maintaining social distancing and other forms of protection is helpful for encouraging ongoing compliance. Unfortunately, that’s not happening in the United States, where the pandemic has (at this writing) killed over 129,000 people—in part because of confused messaging. We can at least take responsibility for controlling our own messaging—to our kids and family, coworkers, and followers on social media. Perhaps our leaders will follow suit.
People need to hear that their actions are making a difference.
In a recent paper synthesizing decades of research, scientists suggest that we can encourage compliance with prevention measures by reporting on the benefits of accrued cooperation—meaning, let people know that their actions are resulting in lowered hospitalization and death rates. People are more likely to continue with difficult advice when they feel that it’s actually making a difference.
There’s also a good way to recognize each other’s efforts: gratitude. Saying “thanks” to other people who adhere to wearing masks and social distancing can also help, the researchers argue. Not only does gratitude make people feel good about what they’re doing, but it can also encourage them to “pay it forward” and to want to do more to help others. I actually tell those that I see with a mask, “THANK YOU FOR TAKING CARE OF ME”
Public displays of gratitude—as well as offering opportunities for people to help one another through neighborhood groups or community organizations—can build community, too, and bring momentum to the movement to continue taking precautions as time goes on.
“Doing so would spotlight the cooperation at the heart of social distancing and implement the reciprocity shown to generate cooperation in social dilemmas,” the study authors write.
All of these steps—appealing to our prosocial natures and common humanity; being a good role model; consistent, authoritative messaging; and making impact visible—can help us to do the hard work of protecting others and increasing the common good. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to think of ourselves as one big human family all trying to fight this virus together. It’s really not a SMALL WORLD so much as just a BIG LIVING ROOM of which we all share a sacred space made even more hallowed by the care we can show for others just by MASKING UP
I’ve never been much of a
but I don’t mind
that it doesn’t mean a whole lot
if I do for you what
I THINK YOU NEED
instead of what you’re telling me
WHAT YOU REALLY NEED
. . .that’s the true difference between
C A R I N G
a p a t h y
M A S K I N G
Sometimes I feel like a severe
S H A D O W
I see myself clearly
I’m just not so sure if I
K N O W
what I’m seeing. . .
Have you felt like that
r e c e n t l y. . . ?
Does that statement help;
make things clearer
or does it just throw more mud in your eyes
and make them
more cloudy. . .
on the verge of literally
MARKHAM HEID, a writer freelance writer wrote a piece five years ago that talks about that
He tells us, when it comes to quelling stress, there are dozens of research-backed remedies. But the most effective treatment is always going to be the one you can stick with, says Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, director of the integrative medicine program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“Managing stress is not like taking antibiotics, where you take all the medication and then you’re done and cured,” Cohen says. “It’s a lifelong process, so you have to find something you can engage in regularly and indefinitely.” Even if every stress expert agreed that daily meditation is the optimal form of treatment—and that kind of consensus isn’t farfetched—it wouldn’t do you much good unless you could muster the time and self-discipline to practice on a daily basis. For a lot of people, that’s never going to happen.
Fortunately, in terms of its therapeutic power, meditation may not require a quiet room—just a quiet mind. . .which means you have to ask the question,
DO I WANT SUCH A QUIET MIND?
When you’re stressed, your brain races from thought to thought, and these thoughts tend to be anxious and infused with dread, Cohen explains. Maybe you’re freaking out about a work deadline or a family member’s declining health. The most effective stress remedies disperse those rapid, worry-filled thoughts by focusing your mind on the present, not on some calamitous future, Cohen says.
Meditation is a popular stress remedy because it’s all about this kind of mind-anchoring. But if you’re able to achieve that calm, quiet state of mind while running or weeding your garden, then either will be beneficial. One 2015 study from Dutch researchers compared physical activity to mindfulness meditation, and found them to be equally effective at managing stress. Even washing dishes can alleviate anxiety—provided your attention is focused on the task at hand.
On the other hand, research shows your gym session or yoga practice won’t chill you out if your brain is preoccupied with work or family problems while you’re doing them. “They’re still healthy practices, they’re just not beneficial in terms of stress,” Cohen says.
So what’s your best course of action? First, check out mindfulness meditation. There’s compelling evidence to suggest it really is the antidote to our frenetic, future-focused way of life, Cohen says. Even if you don’t stick with it, the stuff you’ll learn can inform everything else you do—from preparing presentations at work to planting flowers in your garden.
At the same time, regular exercise bolsters your psychological health in myriad ways. “The ideal stress treatment would be to have both exercise and mindfulness on board in your life, not one or the other,” Cohen says.
A third weapon in your anti-stress arsenal is nature. Spending time on wooded trails or in other natural outdoor environments—any place away from man-built stuff like streets or buildings—appears to trigger an immediate drop in stress, says Tytti Pasanen of the University of Tampere in Finland. More research shows just looking at photos of nature is enough to mellow you out.
As you might expect, combining exercise with natural outdoor environments seems to be especially great at combating stress, Pasanen’s research shows. “I would advise regular physical activity in nature, on a weekly basis if possible,” she says.
Mindfulness practices. Exercise. Nature. Combine all three, and your stress won’t stand a chance.
I feel like a severe
s h a d o w
like my thoughts are not mine at all. . .
The Dalai Lama recently said,
“Scientists declare that it’s human nature to be compassionate. All living beings who experience feelings of pleasure and pain ultimately survive as a result of love and compassion. If we human beings help each other, serve each other, with compassion, we’ll be happy”
. . .I’m not sure if that’ll cause you to meditate
or even think much;
here’s hoping you can
F E E L
is about 4 years old. . .
Someone gifted it to me and I have never fully read it through;
I’ve thumbed through it,
the following before putting it on
for further reading
and I picked it up over these past few days and read it’s own
Would you like to change the world but feel like there’s nothing you can do? What if you discovered you could change everything with just five breaths and one kind thought? Want to help heal America? Our planet? The Global Kindness Revolution is the way forward. You don’t even have to get out of bed to join. You only need to take five breaths and think a kind thought, each day, at noon. Kindness at Noon, Everyday, Everywhere is a call to action to all, regardless of beliefs, background or religion, who are craving a kinder, gentler world.
This is a guide to exploring those aspects of ourselves we’re unaware of, such as suppressed anger and racism, that keep us in the dark and prevent us from embracing our neighbor, or what we perceive as the “other.” Scientists call the primitive part of our brains the “lizard” brain from the times when we hunted dinosaurs. Now, in this tumultuous era where viciousness and apathy fills the airwaves, The Global Kindness Revolution aims to elevate our collective mindset, to nurture the “Kind Mind” where empathy and compassion are on automatic.
The book provides exercises and guidance for incorporating a kindness lifestyle. It includes practices to enhance our connection with Mother Earth, and perspectives on what it means to be kind to oneself. It drills down into social issues that impact us individually and as a whole, and how we can navigate our social interactions with more compassion. It suggests ways to improve our personal relationships and our community, and how to maintain a healthy existence with the domination of technology.
The magic of this revolution is its global appeal calling on millions around the world to pause for Kindness at Noon. More are joining the cause to diminish the violence, racism and meanness humanity has continuously been plagued with. What began as a simple experiment in a Pennsylvania prison has expanded into a global initiative making a mark in countries like Nepal, Afghanistan and Egypt, directly addressing the refugee crisis, violence against women, and other injustices in dire need of change.
Kindness at Noon, Everyday, Everywhere. Join us!
r i g h t. . . ?
A N D
nothing against this fine book
and the exercises it implores us to use,
B U T
now’s not the time for words
filled with them. . .
far past needing books about
h e a l i n g
right on time about
B E I N G
A Volume of
. . .funny, huh,
THESE TOO, ARE WORDS. . .
and we need to not only be carriers of
INFESTERS OF THIS LOVE
antidote or vaccine
. . .A time
to stop drawing lines in the sand
to be sided against
BUT CREATORS OF CIRCLES
e x c l u d e
This is to be
A Caring Catalyst
BUT A LIVE
Circle making inclusive
one compassionately kind act at at time
For Now. . .
It’s not a time to do things by
and if words be necessary at all. . .
May it be
that we are all more
and way less
I shared this over three years ago under much different circumstances;
C I R C U M S T A N C E S
that could have never have been imagined
and far from understood
C I R C U M A T A N C E S
even at our most current moment
are difficult to imagine
and feel far from being understood. . .
B U T
Maybe there’s another
a different way
I T :
There is sowing your oats
and then there is serving them,
all the goodness
that can’t begin to fit on a spoon,
in a bowl
or even on a cafeteria tray
or a table. . .
and make a NOTE
THE GOOD YOU MAKE
A picture doesn’t always have to have a caption,
does it. . . ?
could have many captions
one might be:
MANY HANDS; ONE WORLD
or would it be
THE WORLD IN OUR HANDS
or would it be
RESPONDERS US, ONE IN ALL
Mark Brennan, Dana Winters and Pat Dolan, Opinion contributors from USA TODAY have basically reported what really needs no captioning right now for the picture of our World. . .
“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”—Fred Rogers
We are now fully feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In previous weeks perhaps it seemed imaginary, but now we are faced with a new very daunting reality. As the scope of pandemic becomes evident and our daily lives are increasingly altered, the absolute need for us to act heroically with empathy, kindness and compassion is ever present.
Through our research and professional experience, we know one key thing: In times of emergency, providing empathy, kindness and compassion to our fellow citizens is the single most important factor in surviving the initial stages of disaster, limiting suffering, protecting the vulnerable, and quickly recovering in the aftermath of the crisis.
As we have seen, this epidemic is bringing out the best, and worst, in us. At its worst, we are witnessing people speaking out as fear, frustration, uncertainly and massive disruptions to our daily routines grow. With these we see increases in victim blaming, intolerance, hostility, and at its very worst, violence stoked by racism and the promotion of xenophobic beliefs. We saw recent examples in London, New York and elsewhere.
This frightening and uncertain environment also exacerbates social isolation, particularly of the most vulnerable within our society, the old, the ill, the very young and the socially marginalized. The social and psychological toll of this is, and will be, massive.
In the face of a global pandemic, we as individuals are the first responders. Thankfully, we are also seeing inspirational acts — examples of the world sharing responsibility for and with one another, and people giving support to others in their communities even in the face of social-distancing, quarantine and fear.
In a movement across social media, educators of all levels are reaching out to families to offer expertise and assistance in their sudden new responsibility to home-school their children. Countless posts offer caregivers help in content areas such as math, reading, and science.
Laura Ryan does a chalk art message on March 21, 2020 in Swoyersville, Pa. as neighbor Lindsey Stewart watches with her son Seth, 2. (Photo: Dave Scherbenco, AP)
In a Tennessee retirement community under quarantine, a son worried about the well-being of his mother and her friends. He turned that worry into action when he brought his guitar and sat outside the windows, serenading the residents who watched through their screens or stood on their balconies. Some sang along, some just listened, but they all felt a sense of connection to the music and each other. Taran and Calliope Tienof Columbus, Ohio, ages 9 and 6 respectively, are providing impromptu concerts for their self-isolating elderly neighbors.
An Irwin, Pennsylvania window-washing company recently advertised “free grocery pickup & delivery for seniors” on a billboard outside its headquarters, and it’s been fielding calls for help ever since. Similarly, Nevada college student Jayde Powell organized “shopping angels” to collect food, prescriptions, and necessary supplies for the elderly, limiting their possible exposure to the coronavirus. The idea has spread across the country and the Nevada group’s GoFundMe account on Monday was more than a third of the way to its $100,000 goal.
Erin leaves notes on our mail box every day for the mail man;
as a way to say
without the words
a c t i o n s
. . .actions
that can come from any one of us
not just once
or once in a while
and then repeated
u n e n d i n g l y. . .
These acts of kindness, compassion and empathy continue to grow across the world, and will grow far faster than any seeds of division if we commit to making them more important than hatred or fear.
Sometimes the world can look so big that it is hard to know where to start to show kindness, compassion and empathy. It is times like this when the words of humanitarian and children TV presenter and educator the late Fred Rogers ring true: “The deep and simple is far more essential than the shallow and complex.” Even the simplest acts of kindness, compassion and empathy are felt so deeply in times of uncertainty. No act is too simple, no moment too small, to bring comfort and healing. Now is a chance for all of us to act heroically.
You have the ability and opportunity to ease the fear of children and others by talking to them about what this crisis and ensuring them that scientists and doctors are going to fix this. You have the ability help ensure the health of the elderly by shopping for them to limit their potential exposure, while talking routinely with them to help them feel less isolated and alone. You can challenge victim blaming and hateful speech when you hear it. You can donate time, money, food and your skills to support any need in your community.
These are but a few small examples. What is important is that you look for opportunities to demonstrate empathy and kindness, and act on them.
Finally, we look back to history. Faced with war, disease, disaster, terrorism and other threats, those we remember for making a difference are those who showed compassion, kindness, and empathy to fellow human beings in their greatest hours of need. These qualities are at the core of our humanity and our capacity to respond and recover from this current crisis.
Together, and supported by each other, we will get through this. . .
We are literally showing the greatest way to get out of Hell
IS THROUGH IT. . .
so we do
. . .we do
one step at a time
and we do it best
HAND IN HAND
(and it may never require touching but it’ll always mean reaching)