For some reason I’ve been having a lot of conversations about empathy recently. Empathy has been defined in the scientific journals as ‘I feel withyou‘, as distinct from compassion, which has been defined as ‘I feel for you’. With empathy, we share another’s pain and we are very aware of the effects of our actions on them. With compassion, our focus moves a little in the direction of wishing them freedom from their pain.
I love doing affirmations and have used them for many years. My recent Hay House Radio show (Monday 30th April 2012) was on ‘The Power of Affirmations’, where I went into the science of how they work and their impact upon the brain and body. Near the end of the show, I read out my Top-Ten list of affirmations and several people have since got in touch to ask if I could put them down on paper.
When people open their hearts to unselfish, unconditional love, a whole new world of possibilities opens. Rather than spending effort avoiding the selfishness of others, they take time to make sure that the way they choose to serve society is done in the best way possible. When people can trust others to treat each other with love and respect rather than as competitors, then everyone gains.
Most people believe that the secret to living to a very old age is simply down to the food we eat or how much exercise we take, or even whether we drink or smoke or how much stress there is in our lives. This is because most longevity research (research into lifespan) has focused upon these factors. And they all do play an important role in lifespan. But one vital ingredient is missing from this menu. That ingredient is friends.
When we think of side effects the first thing that springs to mind are the side effects of drugs. But who’d have thought that kindness could have side effects too? Well, it does! And positive ones at that.
Scientists from Stanford University, publishing in the journal, ‘Emotion’ , showed that meditation that focused on loving kindness increased people’s feelings of social connectedness. The Tibetan Buddhist ‘Loving-Kindness’ meditation invites practitioners to cultivate a sense of loving kindness, wellness, peace, happiness, and compassion for ourselves, our loved ones, neutral people, and even aggressors in our lives.
The US National Longitudinal Mortality Study (NLMS) involving 281,460 men and women over 45 years of age it found that marriage was associated with a much lower risk of mortality than being single. Similarly, the British Regional Heart Study of 1995, that involved 7,735 men aged 40-59, found that being single was associated with a higher risk of mortality. However, it is not marriage itself that offers the health benefits. It is the quality of relationship within the marriage that counts. A happy marriage translates to a happy heart.
Romance makes you come alive, doesn’t it? It brings joy to the soul, happiness to the heart, and rose-colored glasses to the vision! With the arrival of romance, you feel that you are walking on air and that your world is filled with happiness. Because everything feels so wonderful, even simple pleasures become ecstatic delights.
We talked in this space last week about one of the most important things in life: being friends. So yes, be friends with your spouse. Be friends with your children. Be friends with your relatives. Be friends with your neighbors and your fellow workers and your acquaintances. And yes, even be friends with your enemies. And most of all...be friends with yourself! Let's see how...
I hope and trust that your life has been wonderful this week. Let me say that the important thing is to be friends. Be friends with everybody. Be friends with your spouse. Be friends with your children. Be friends with your relatives. Be friends with your neighbors and your fellow workers and your acquaintances. And yes, even be friends with your enemies. Just...be friends.
I have been faced recently with some dear friends and family members that have been going through very difficult challenges in their lives. As a counselor, it is my nature to help and as a friend it is my nature to care. As an empath, it has sometimes been difficult to tolerate the negative emotional and physical energetic that surrounds these folks.