The words we speak have power.
I’m grateful for the six years I spent drinking to blackout and snorting various substances.
If it’s worth having, it’s worth working at.
Life is beautiful, if you let yourself see it.
They’re so good, you’ll want to keep these gifts for yourself.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – American author/humorist, Mark Twain.
Need an instant pick-me-up? It’s easy; try committing a random act of kindness. Why? Psychological research shows that being kind to others boosts our health and happiness; kindness breeds kindness; and – even better – witnessing altruistic acts can lead us to feel elation, peace and gratitude.
So why don’t we practice these little acts of kindness more often – especially when we know being kind to others, ourselves and animals, for example, is both reciprocal and good for us? Is it because we’re all so damn busy with the humdrum of life, we become bogged down by work/family/social commitments, so that we forget to be nice?
I was amazed by how happy I felt recently after a random act of kindness I committed quickly lead to another. It was nothing major on my part, I just simply gave a stranger 50 cents when he fell short at the petrol station. It was practicality on my behalf, also: I was waiting in line behind the man to pay for my petrol and the line of people behind me was getting bigger by the minute.
So, while the man fumbled in his pockets, scrounging for change, I simply offered him up the change he needed. A look of shocked surprise crossed his face, he mumbled his thanks before going on his way, and all was well. And, here comes the good part for me – the petrol service station attendant was so impressed, he gave me a nice, little discount on my fuel.
It was a win-win for everyone and – call me a simple lass – but it made me feel really, really good. I had a warm, happy glow afterwards – certainly something akin to elation, as the psychological studies suggest.
A Brisbane clinical psychologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, says it’s well known in social psychology that doing something kind for someone else is a good antidote for depression. What’s more, people suffering from depression are often asked by psychologists to find a way to help someone. And if they do so, it can be an effective means of alleviating their depressed mood.
But you don’t need to be suffering from depression to benefit from performing a random act of kindness; everyone benefits, she says. “Doing something positive for someone else, even something as simple as a warm and caring remark or small act of kindness, can lead to a feeling of well-being in both the helper and the recipient, even a sense of elation,” says the psychologist.
“The person offering the help or kind words will benefit with a boost to their self-esteem and the recipient is likely to feel a sense of gratitude.
“Feeling grateful or appreciative for one’s blessings is good for our emotional well-being. To encourage a sense of gratitude, positive psychology uses the gratitude letter or visit, in which a person is encouraged to visit or write to someone who has helped them in the past and tell them how much their words or deeds helped the recipient. This of course is beneficial for both parties, but especially for the one feeling grateful.”
So, why not try doing something unexpectedly kind for someone else today? And it doesn’t even have to just be limited to a loved one – feel the power of being nice to strangers and tell me it doesn’t feel really, really good!
What do you think? Have you committed a random act of kindness lately?
Images via Random Acts of Kindness, Michelle Cederberg, Bright Drops, whysimpleisbetter.wordpress.com
It’s Monday morning. You hear your alarm and you hit the snooze button. Then you hit it again. Eventually you manage to get out of bed, get dressed and out of the house. You grab a coffee on the run and start counting the days left before the weekend… Too many. While most of us are familiar with this scenario, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can fall in love with Mondays and here’s how.
1. Get enough sleep
We have a good time until late on the weekends, sleep in, then stay up late again. No wonder getting out of bed on Mondays is a struggle. Treat yourself to an early Sunday night instead and you will wake up with renewed energy.
2. Have a morning ritual
Do something in the morning that helps you feel the way you want to feel – whether it’s calm and grounded or excited and wanting to take on the world. Your morning ritual could include exercise or meditation, but it can also be as simple as singing loudly along to your favourite song on the radio.
3. Schedule something fun for Monday
Why do we leave all the fun things for Friday nights? Why not have fun every day? Schedule a lunch date with a friend or a dance class after work and you will have something look forward to.
4. Appreciate your work
No work situation is perfect and it’s easy to let our attention go to all the things we dislike. If you notice yourself going down the negative spiral, stop and remind yourself of all the things you appreciate about your work, instead. Maybe you’re working on a new and exciting project. Or you have a client you always enjoy talking to. Or you get free coffee. At the very least, you have an income that pays your bills. There’s always something you can appreciate.
5. Plan for change
If none of the above ideas help you fall in love with Mondays, you probably need a change. Spend some time figuring out what’s working and what’s not working for you in your current situation. Brainstorm things you can do to make your work more enjoyable or start looking at other opportunities.
Image via Pixabay
- The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
- A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Christmas is coming and with it, giddy highs and stressful lows, as we strive to make things absolutely perfect for our loved ones, including our precious children and other family members.
Is my eggnog good enough for hard-to-please Aunt Myrtle? Will everyone get along this Christmas, or fight over the turkey? What if my toddlers misbehave? Agh!
So, in order to combat such anxieties, relationship psychologists say it’s vitally important to be mindful and enjoy the present.
Mindfulness is a hot topic and buzzword at present, but it has long been recognised as an effective way to reduce stress, increase self-awareness, enhance emotional intelligence and effectively handle painful thoughts and feelings.
So, how on earth do we practice mindfulness?
Some simple tips to live in the moment, as advocated by Buddhists, include consciously focussing on the present. Practice staying in the moment, focusing on the here-and-now and putting worries and concerns aside to be dealt with at a later time.
In addition, pre-planning and setting aside time to be organised can help us to relax on the big day, knowing that we’ve done our best to have things “just so” as we want them to be for Christmas lunch. And, as any psych will tell you, it’s important to be kind to yourself, be realistic and don’t expect perfection!
Unexpected problems and issues will always arise, but we have to try to be happy with having done our best.
Using relaxation techniques such as slow, deep breathing, not letting yourself worry about things that you could have done – instead, visualising a scene of peace happiness and tranquillity – can also help you to be mindful and relaxed during the festive season.
As well as combating anxiety, another great goal this Christmas is to develop a sense of gratitude, or appreciation for what you have, or towards a particular person who has done something good for you.
For having a strong sense of gratitude can act as a strong antidote to counter depression.
Writing a list of the good things in your life can a cool, fun place to start and experts say this is also a great habit to teach the kids.
Another idea is to write a gratitude letter – a letter to someone who has done something for you that has changed your life in a good way – especially if you’ve never told then how much you appreciate what they did. You don’t even have to actually send the letter!
Images via www.pixabay.com.
Expressing gratitude is something so simple and obvious that its importance can easily be overlooked. In fact, my own gratitude practice started quite accidentally and it wasn’t intended as a gratitude practice at all. I was writing a weekly gratitude post on my blog, because it gave me something to write about and as a means to connect with other bloggers. I wasn’t expecting anything else, so it took me completely by surprise when a few months later my whole perception of the world started changing.
I’d go about my days looking for things to be grateful for. I’d often stop my busyness to appreciate a beautiful flower or a special moment with my kids. I’d be able to find something good in any situation. Annoying happenings like a broken computer didn’t bother me anymore. I’d just think to myself, ‘Isn’t it great that I get to spend more time offline now?’.
When I looked deeper into it, it turned out that what was happening to me was normal and confirmed by science.
Scientifically proven benefits of gratitude
Participants in gratitude research conducted by Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough reported the following positive changes after engaging in a gratitude practice for just 2-9 weeks.
- Increased life satisfaction and sense of well-being.
- More positive outlook on life
- More and better quality of sleep.
- More time spent exercising.
- Less physical symptoms.
- A sense of connectedness to others.
Another study by Alex Wood, Stephen Joseph and P. Alex Linley found that grateful people are more likely to seek both emotional and practical support and cope in a positive way. They are less likely to engage in self-blaming behaviours and substance abuse.
Overall, a growing body of research supports what I have experienced firsthand. Gratitude can make you happier, healthier and more connected to yourself and the world around you.
How to get started
A simple way to start a gratitude practice is the gratitude journal. Every day before going to bed write minimum 3 things that you’re grateful for. You can also carry your journal with you and write your gratitude notes in it during the day, as you notice something you appreciate. If pen and paper are not your thing, there are a number of gratitude apps you can download for your smartphone.
Image by JamesDeMers via Pixabay.com
By Tatiana Apostolova