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January 15, 2021
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Mind Body and Spirit

Steven Campbell
Four ways to flourish during the pandemic
November 27, 2020

Research from Stanford is discovering how Americans are sinking into a funk. 

However, other research by the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard has been studying ways in which we can still emotionally flourish during these unprecedented times. 

I am sharing four of them here.

Gratitude

Gratitude is simply the expression of appreciation for what we have. It is recognizing our value independent of how much money we have. 

And it is generated from within us. 

It is an affirmation of goodness and warmth and it strengthens relationships. Studies show that specific areas of the brain are involved in experiencing and expressing gratitude. Brain scans of people assigned a task that stimulates expression of gratitude show lasting changes in the prefrontal cortex that heighten sensitivity to the future.

So here is an exercise you can use to increase your gratitude.

Take the time once per week to reflect upon five things in your life that you’re grateful for, write these down, and do this for ten weeks

In a randomized trial, those who were assigned  to do this had higher  levels  of  gratitude  as  well  as  better feelings about life as a whole, fewer physical symptom complaints,  and  more  and  better  sleep.  

Imagining our better selves 

Other research has indicated that an exercise consisting of imagining and writing about one’s best possible self actually increases your aspects of well-being.  

The exercise consists of something similar to the following: “Think about your life in the future. Imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your life goals. Think of this as the realization of all of your life dreams.”

Now, write down what you imagined!

One can reflect on this ideal life or “YOUR best possible self” with respect to family, A romantic partner, friends, career, health, hobbies, goals, character and so on.  Further  research  is  needed,  but  the  evidence  from some  small  randomized  trials  suggests  that  such  an exercise has positive effects on one’s happiness and life satisfaction,  on  increasing  optimism,  and  possibly  on your health  

Volunteering

A number of observational studies have indicated that volunteering is associated with improvements in various aspects of well-being.  

In some sense, volunteering is a commitment to repeated acts of kindness, generally directed to an important goal of improving the life of a community.  Volunteer organizations can also provide a powerful sense of social connection and a common   purpose.   Studies have also discovered that those regularly engaged in volunteering tend  to  be  happier,  have  more  social activities, have better physical and mental health, and also live longer. 

And finally, acts of kindness

Acts of kindness, helping others, and going out of one’s way to be of assistance to those in need can, of course, increase the well-being of both yourself and of others.  

A  number  of  studies suggest that not only do such acts of kindness increase others’ well-being,  they  also  increase one’s own sense of well-being.  

Research has discovered that being instructed to carry out several acts of kindness that one would not ordinarily otherwise do each week, over the course of several weeks, can increase one’s happiness and life satisfaction, and make one feel more engaged, less anxious and more connected.

I personally believe the reason for this is that the pandemic is forcing us to look inward, and after a while, your inward sources do dry up. However, there are 7.6 billion people in the world who are all going through what everyone else is going through in this pandemic, and all of us need acts of kindnesses in our lives, especially right now!

And…when it starts with you…and I…everybody wins!

 

Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available online at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com.  For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.