I spent some time in New York City last weekend. I’m writing a series of pieces for Psychologies Magazine called ‘The Kindness Conversation’ where I basically have, well, conversations about kindness. In New York, I had my kindness conversation with Cynthia Germanotta, mother of Lady Gaga.
When I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, the placebo effect was frequently dismissed as ‘all in the mind’ or ‘psychosomatic’. It wasn’t a real improvement, it was believed, merely that people ‘think’ they’re feeling better.
I recently chatted with a girl who has had rheumatoid arthritis since she was a child. Now in her late 20s, she’s taken painkillers for years. When she was first diagnosed, a nurse instructed her to imagine her painkillers travelling to her joints and then dissolving into little particles and spreading out over the joints, soothing them and reducing swelling and pain.
I spent a day earlier in the week at a primary school where I was talking to young children about the importance of kindness. It was a school outside Glasgow, Scotland, on the invitation of my friend, John – aka Mr McLellan. The school has a dedicated ASD unit.
In other blogs, I’ve written how kindness is the opposite of stress in terms of its physiological effects. At first, one might imagine that peace is the opposite of stress, but peace is more the absence of stress than its opposite.
For several years now, I have been writing about, and teaching, a visualisation strategy of imagining illness turning into wellness. People often ask me how it works. I believe there are a few things that contribute so I thought I’d briefly sketch out some of them in this blog.
Everybody knows what stress feels like. We also know what it feels like when we’re kind, when someone is kind to us, or even when we witness kindness. The feelings are opposite. Most of the effects inside the body are the opposite too.