How Kindness Can Heal the Heart
Treating others well has surprisingly big benefits for our own health and well being
Did you know that heart disease is the primary killer of men and women in the United States? One in four people in the U.S. will die from some form of heart disease. Contributing factors may include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, being overweight, having a poor diet, being inactive — and drinking too much.
Is it possible we don’t love and care for ourselves as much as we should? Too many of us also fill our minds with negativity. In fact, up to 80 percent of our daily thoughts, on average, are negative. These negative thoughts such as put-downs, self-defeating beliefs and fear influence our health in a big way.
A negative way of thinking has been ingrained in us by others and society. Many of us have been told since we were children that we are “not good enough,” that we are not capable, worthy or lovable enough. It's not true, of course, but as children we believed everything we were taught by those around us and by society. Now as adults, we still believe what is simply not true.
We need to re-train our thinking into a more positive way. First, we need to be aware of this. Then, after we identify the issue, we can correct it by understanding this belief system through the greater intelligence — otherwise known as the soul self, authentic self, or true self. This is the part of each of us that has the power of healing.
The second way to correct this falsehood is through the mind-created self, ego or false self. This is the area responsible for the negative thoughts we generate each and every day. By being aware of negative thoughts, we can begin to let them go. After all, who wants to think negatively all day long? Reset the notion of “I’m not good enough” to one that begins with love, kindness and healing.
The very act of being kind to ourselves or to others produces the hormone oxytocin. It is often referred to as the “love hormone” and it has a huge effect of human emotions. Oxytocin is known to be cardio-protective: The more it is released from the brain’s pituitary gland, the healthier the heart may be. So how can we produce more oxytocin?
We can give someone a hug who needs it, help someone who is having a difficult time, listen to someone who needs a sympathetic ear, pet an animal, or tell someone we appreciate them and care for them — and smile.
Other things we can do to help our hearts include eating better, getting more exercise, and limiting the stress in our lives.
We need to be aware of the negativity in our lives. What makes us angry, unhappy? What makes us eat junk food or lash out at others? Identify these sources — and work to limit them.
And always remember: YOU have the power to change the negative beliefs that impede the road to happiness and success.