I remember when Dali first joined our family, we lived in a downtown area. She was about six months old, maybe close to a year and filled with energy. She loved saying hello to people, all people. She would go up to everyone and greet them. And most people responded in kind, although there were always some who were busy or didn’t want to be bothered, which was no problem for Dali. She would just move on to the next person. Though she is nearing 14 years old, she still goes out of her way to greet people and it is clear how happy this interaction makes her.
Social interaction makes a big difference in our health. It is as important as eating healthy and exercising.
In this seven-minute segment, Shankar Vedantam focuses on the health impacts of social isolation for men, but it has good information for everyone.
Researchers Examine What Social Isolation Can Do To Men’s Health
Take time to connect with other people. Say hello to others on the bus or subway. Or when you’re on line. Strike up a conversation with a bank teller or cashier. I know from my experience, though brief, these interactions can boost my mood.
(Professional Website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com)
I can get very stressed and have strong emotional responses to situations. Over the years, many people have suggested that I meditate or do yoga – neither of which appeals to me. So, I was pleased to come across the work of Ellen Langer, a social psychologist and professor at Harvard University. Her research shows how to be mindful without meditating.
Here are four take-aways from watching her video (below):
- Notice new things. When you do, whether it be about a person, a place you’ve walked before, or whatever you put your attention to, is mindfulness. Intentionally noticing new things is being in the present.
- Make what you are doing new in some way. Bring your style, perspective, interpretation to it. Even subtly. When musicians in an orchestra were asked to play their part, something they do over-and-over again, in a subtly new way, both the musician and the listener enjoyed the piece much more.
- Words and perspective matter. For example, instead of thinking of vacuuming as a chore, think of it as a chance to get exercise. Or, instead of thinking of your friend as “gullible,” think of him as “trusting.” When you change words, you change perspective and you get a change in mindset.
- The mind and body are one. Placebos work because of the mind-body connection. Her video has a lot of cool examples of how our mindset effects our health.
I’ve started noticing new things walks with my dogs. One of the things I’ve noticed is how different each tree is from another. They’ve got their own fingerprint. I enjoy the exercise of noticing new things and it certainly get me to be in the moment. And more relaxed.
If you decide to try some of these lessons, feel free to let me know how it goes.
(Profession Website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com)