Thursday, April 30, 2015

#116 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Boosting Resilience with Compassion and Altruism

"Open the Window"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
I just listened to a great Kelly McGonigal lecture on YouTube!  She was looking at the research behind her new, soon to be released book The Upside of Stress.  She talked about Shelly Tayor's research on the correlation between resilience and the "tend and befriend" mindset that is often observed in very stressful situations. The research shows that stress can help us connect and strengthen relationships if we engage the "tend and befriend" response, rather than the "defeat" or "freeze" response.  (The "defeat" research was horrifying!  Horrible, but gives a clear understanding of learned helplessness and anomic depression)

She cited some interesting and rather wonderful research with inner city youth in Vancouver that were given a task of volunteering with elementary school–aged children (full text available from JAMA when you click on the link).  The researchers were looking for connections between pro-social behavior and the improvement of adolescents' cardiovascular risk profiles.  What they found was those who increased the most in empathy and altruistic behaviors, and who decreased the most in negative mood, also showed the greatest decreases in cardiovascular risk markers ( C-reactive protein level, interleukin 6 level, total cholesterol level, and body mass index) over time.

Looking for the 116th way to have a happy artist's life?  Watch Kelly McGonigal's video and find more ways to boost pro-social behaviors, empathy and altruism! 

"Open the window at the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out"  - Rumi