Monday, February 22, 2010

The Stuff that Makes Me Cry

Living with meaning, meaning, being in service of something bigger than you, actually helps you live longer (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986)!

Here are some fun facts about living a life that matters (Luks, 1988):
Two thirds of people who perform altruistic behaviors report actual physical effects:
50% report a “high” feeling
43% of people who helped reported feeling stronger and more energized
28% felt warm
22% felt calmer and less depressed
21% experienced greater self worth
13% experienced few aches and pains

This has HUGE impact on what we "prescribe" to make ourselves feel better. Instead of seeking support, perhaps we should be GIVING support.

When I see and live meaning in action I just want to cry. Here's a few accounts of what's made me cry recently:

1. GIVING: During Thanksgiving Day weekend I visited my grandparents and did some gentle exercises with them on the carpet. After wards I massaged my grandpas back and his ears. He smiled with such glee it made me want to cry. Later I was telling my classmates in Philly about how meaningful this was to me and I did cry.

2. A few weeks ago I received the BEST gift ever. My friends, Alina and Klim Kavall, bought me the domain and hooked it up so I didn't have to do a thing. They had no idea this was one of those annoying things that I kept pushing off on my to-do list. The unexpected kindness of this gesture made me tear. Seriously, this was better than diamonds.

3. Watching HBO's Documentary on Temple Grandin, the autistic woman who revolutionized slaughterhouses.
This movie made me sob. Watch it. I cried for her courage, her will, her overcoming, and her devotion to leave a meaningful mark on this world.

4. Being a part of one of best friend's wedding showers.
Experiencing the product of the magnificent effort her mom and maid of honor invested and watching it all come to fruition.

5. Feeling grateful for just how freaking fortunate I am to have such an amazing family, group of friends, job, roof over my head, food in my fridge, coat on my back, toothpaste, a beautiful body that works, heat, a computer, safety, and I can go on. (This isn't really about meaning, more about feeling gratitude acutely...but still makes the crying list.)

To finish off...

"If you pay attention to all that you have, you'll always find more. If you pay attention to what you don't have, you'll always find you don't have enough" (Unknown).

With my love,

Hendrick, C. & Hendrick, S. (1986). A theory and method of love. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 392-402.

Luks, A (1988, October). Helper’s high: Volunteering makes people feel good, physically and emotionally. and like “runner’s calm,” it’s probably good for your health. Psychology Today, 22(10), 34-42.

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