Updated: Mar 11, 2022
Barbara Frederickson, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina says,” Research shows that people’s capacity to love and their experiences of compassion can positively affect overall health and heart health in particular”.
In Frederickson’s research, the team assigned a group of people to learn loving-kindness meditation (LKM), which is a Buddhist practice, meditating with intentions to develop positive emotions toward themselves and others. Those that practiced it the most had healthy increases in their vagal tone and reported more positive interactions with others compared to the group who did not learn LKM.
As a species whose survival depends on the ability to build mutually beneficial relationships with others, human beings have a deep-seated need to feel connected, to be trusted and loved, and to trust and love in return. Feeling connected to others increases psychological and physical well-being and decreases the risk of depression and physical ailments. A sense of connectedness also increases empathetic responding as well as acts of trust and cooperation, which tend to have mutually reinforcing effects: they beget trust and cooperation in return.
Connectedness is not just with a partner. It can be with relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and many strangers, and let us not forget our pets. I find this connectedness when I do kind things for others; strangers, family, or friends. This also helps me to have a more positive attitude which helps me stay grounded.
Have you ever gone to a store and just smiled at people in the store to see how they react?
Children seem to be more receptive to that kind of smile, a little wave, or just acknowledgment of them. How does it make you feel when someone smiles back? Good, right? This is connectedness. Have you ever noticed how a clerk can make or break your feelings about that shopping experience? Again, connectedness, we can feel it. It can change our mood and most of all our health.
If you don’t get any connectedness throughout your day, practice LKM and you may want to consider volunteering or joining groups of like-minded people.