A New Kind of New Year's Resolution

Ask JaniceA NEW KIND OF NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION This New Year I would like to suggest a different kind of resolution. Instead of thinking of ways in which you can improve yourself, I suggest make a resolution that each day you do a random act of kindness and work towards improving someone else’s life. Our New Year’s resolutions are often born from thoughts and feelings about ourselves; things we don’t like and want to change. I have noticed in my own life that when I am feeling bad it is easier for me to act in ways that are not so good for me, like eating the wrong things or drinking or other ways that actually can make me feel worse. I also have noticed that when I do something good for someone else especially during those hard times I feel better. As a massage therapist and fitness/health trainer for almost 3 decades there has been many times I have not felt like working because I was sad or mad about something in my own life but being work and having that responsibility I had to continue and to my amazement and gratefulness I would start feeling better almost as soon as I started either doing a massage and helping someone else out with their problems. You see we are all struggling and we all share the same challenges, the more we reach out to help others the better our own lives will be. There was a study (you knew I would quote a study), published in which participants were asked to behave helpfully toward another person for just a few minutes a day. After six months, participants reported a much greater self-esteem and happiness than those in the control group. Not only is doing good deeds sure to spike your happy meter, but more and more research proves there are physical benefits, too. Studies have found that people who make a habit of helping others report better health than those who don’t, and seniors who do volunteer work may actually live longer. In 1890 William James (brother to author Henry James) wrote a two-volume magnum opus The Principles of Psychology and is still required reading for students of behavioral science. James paid attention to the relationship between emotion and behavior. Conventional wisdom tells us that your emotions cause you to behave in certain ways. James became convinced that this commonsense view was unfinished and he proposed a new theory which took 6 decades to become accepted. He hypothesized that the relationship between behavior and feelings is a two-way street. By changing behaviors you can change feelings. As Aristotle said “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I found an article written by Dr Oz and DR Rozien, they explain that when people give to others, whether it be money, time, or some other act of kindness, they experience a rush of endorphins similar to a runner’s high. Even just thinking about helping people can boost positive emotion, strengthen your immune system, reduce stress, and decrease pain. In one study 20 percent of the people lost weight after they started volunteering. . Creating small acts of kindness is behaviors that can improve your feelings of self. It has been scientifically proven to have therapeutic that it can help those with depression disorders. On Friday December 14th we as a nation had our breath knocked out of us. The grief is more than words can describe and it is almost beyond our abilities to know what to do or even begin to breathe again. A suggestion made by the wife of the Rabbi in Sandy Hook CT appeals to me. “What we need is a good flood - a flood of kindness, of caring, of compassion, of goodness, of warmth, of benevolence, of support, of reaching out. There are, thank G-d, enough of us on this planet to make sure that not one human being ever feels lost. We need a Flood of connections. Not just the trickles that come from time to time, but everywhere, all the time. We need to be at least as aware of the ecology of human behavior as we are of the ecology of the physical resources of the planet. It has to penetrate all aspects of our world - the worlds of business, the media, education, culture, science, the arts, medicine - we need a flood, a good flood. Every single one of us has to know that we can make a difference, and we need to put serious thought to how we can best do that.”