How Science Helps Us Find the Good
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Daily Good
Posted: November 1st, 2015
In a study published in the January edition of the journal Mindfulness, psychologists ... asked 313 adults if they had helped anyone during the previous week. Eighty-five percent said they had by, say, listening to a friends problems, babysitting, donating to charity, or volunteering. This small study reveals a truth that is consistently demonstrated in many domains of research: We care deeply for one other, and ... would rather help our fellow beings than not. Even more, the science shows that refusing to help others can have debilitating, long-term mental and physical consequences for ourselves. Isolation hurts, physically; so does aggression. Every angry word we utter fries neurons and wears out our hearts. Heres an experiment you can perform right now: Think about something stressful that happened to you during the past week. Now scan your body: How does your chest, stomach, or neck feel? Then think about something good that happened during the same period, however small. Now what happens in your body? Did you feel any difference? The research predicts that the stressful memory caused you physical discomfort. Your tight chest and clenched stomach doesnt make the world a better place. So what can you do? Science has an answer, and it starts with counting ... the good things in life. That doesnt mean we ignore the bad. But all too often our negativity bias leads us to see only the bad, in other people as well as in ourselves. By counting the good things, we see reality more clearly.
Note: The new site Greater Good in Action offers concrete, research-tested practices for individuals to cultivate strengths like awe, gratitude, empathy, and compassion.