Do Yourself a Favor

Do yourself a favor and you might just do a favor for everyone around you. How is that possible? Simple. Research shows that you can cultivate positive mental states by slowing down your activity and paying attention to your surroundings.

The Kindness Cure posted in The Atlantic (July 21, 2015) reports how even a short practice of mindfulness meditation can enhance one’s awareness of the needs of others. According to the research described in this article, beginning meditators demonstrated substantially more positive behaviors than others.

Of course, kindness and compassion are not just for others. We could probably be kinder towards ourselves, as well. How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain (NY Times, July 22) describes the measurable mental health benefits of going for a stroll in ‘nature.’ Test subjects were split into two groups, one that walked through a green, quiet section of the Stanford campus and another one that walked along a busy, noisy highway in Palo Alto. The test subjects in both groups were required to walk alone and without music. No meditation was required, but I suspect that the ‘nature’ group probably found themselves opening up to their surroundings while the ‘highway’ group probably tried to shut out their surroundings by hiding in thoughts of somewhere else.