Language creates reality. The words we hear influence how we feel about ourselves and others. Researchers at the University of Chicago (Williams et al, 2018) examined this by investigating how listening to loving-kindness-based language affected participants’ perception of distress.
Participants listened to recordings of statements designed to cultivate positive, compassionate feelings (such as “May you be truly happy; May you love yourself completely just the way you are”). Those in the control group listened to statements about health and security (e.g., “May you live your life in safety; May you be truly well and free of illness”). Both groups then viewed images of painful stimuli and rated how much pain might be experienced.
The study examined whether the statements affected participants’ sensitivity to their own imagined pain and the pain of others. The results showed that those who listened to the loving-kindness statements perceived greater pain for others (demonstrating higher interpersonal sensitivity). Interestingly, those in the control group who listened to the security-based language rated imagined self-pain higher.
Exposing ourselves to loving-kindness statements may result in decreased sensitivity to our own pain. It may also help us better attune to the distress of others. The words we choose on the inside can really help us experience compassion and connection with those on the outside.
The research firm, Great Place to Work, and People magazine recently reviewed surveys from 4.5 million employees across 1,000 US businesses to determine companies that “care” the most, in terms of their culture, employee benefits, and philanthropic treatment of the community and the environment.
Check out the top ten companies at:
It’s very easy to take our lives for granted. Most of us proceed under the illusion that there’s an unlimited supply of days ahead. While we know, of course, that we’re not immortal, this fact receives little conscious attention. We fall into the habit of procrastinating and postponing things, assuming tomorrow will continue to lie ahead of us.
Risky. We are not fortune tellers. We truly do not know what the future holds – how many years of good health we will have or how many opportunities there will be to share time with those we care about.
Psychologists (Layous et al 2018) recently investigated the effects of having people view time as scarce, and conducted an experiment encouraging participants to live as if they had only one month left in the city they resided in. Compared to a control group, these participants showed significant gains in well-being, deriving greater happiness from their surroundings. Savoring experiences was found to enhance feelings of connection, competence and control.
The results may seem counterintuitive – promoting a scarcity mentality as a means to well-being. And yet, considering future loss is apparently an effective approach to reminding us to make the most of the present time zone we live in!
Did you hear about the NFL player, St. Louis Rams’ center Jason Brown, who walked away from football and his $37 million contract several years ago to buy a farm in North Carolina? He grows food that he donates to the local pantry to feed the hungry, and reports how fulfilling his life a service is.
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