Tag Archives: The Happiness Lab

Kindness Will Heal the World

21 Dec

In April, after I had moved into my new home, I needed something to do other than unpack and feel panicked about the pandemic. I decided to take online classes, I chose the website Coursera. I started with the most popular course of all, Dr. Laurie Santos’ the “Pyschology of Wellbeing.” Dr. Santos teaches at Harvard University.

It was fantastic.  Her theories and work in positive psychology just touched my soul.  Because of the class, I started keeping in a nightly journal where I recorded each night one thing I savored, one good deed I did and three things that I was grateful for that day.  Her class focusing on learning to appreciate what we have and the importance of friends, family and memories only emphasized something I already knew and what she taught:  travel and seeing the world, making good memories,  was much more important than buying things.

But the most important point was the emphasis of kindness.  I always believed in doing a good deed every day, but according to the class the research has shown, that people who do good things for other people feel much better than those who do not. And they feel better for a longer time than just getting a good job and a pay raise.  Doing good, being kind, is the most important for happiness.

I started listening to her podcast, the Happiness Lab.  I also joined the Facebook page devoted to Dr. Santos’ lessons, The Happiness Lab Classroom.  In this time of stress and uncertainty and physical distancing, it helps to focus on the good.

I followed up that class with one called “Resilience Skills in a Time of Uncertainty.”  This course also focused on the theories of positive psychology. The instructor this time was Dr. Karen Reivich, who is the Director of Resilience Training at University of Pennsylvania.   Her lessons built on what I learned in Dr. Santos’ course.  Some of it was rehashing the same information.  But it reinforced and emphasized how to help yourself feel better.  For me,  what I learned, is that you do that by doing good.

After taking this class, I changed my journal entries.  I now write five things I am grateful for each evening.   What has this done for me?  Instead of going to bed worried about the world, the pandemic, the election, the craziness going on, I think about what I am thankful for and the good that I see.  It really makes all the difference.

What else has it done for me?  I was always a charitable person, but my husband and I have upped our donations especially to food pantries and organizations that do direct aid.  I have written letters to and called people who I think need a boost.   I have tried to let my friends know how much I appreciate them. I am focusing on doing at least two good deeds of kindness each day.  Kindness with conviction.  I would rather focus on that then being upset or annoyed.

I am also trying to watch more uplifting programs.  Forget all the gloom and doom movies and documentaries.   This led me to watch the most magnificent documentary about doing good I have ever seen.   I suggest everyone watch The Antidote.  I cried tears of joy throughout the movie as it tells the stories of nine people and organizations that help others in the most sensible and good ways. 

Every one of these programs should be followed throughout the country.  There were three that truly touched my heart. At Bridge Meadows in Portland, Oregon, foster care children and their ‘adoptive’ families live in a community with seniors.  Watching them interact brought joy and tears to my heart and eyes.

In Sullivan County, New York, the Center for Discovery, was amazing.  Since I spent every summer for over 25 years in Sullivan County, I was stunned to find out about this wonderful educational program and home for children and adults with complex disabilities.  And wonder of wonder, a friend of mine’s uncle spent most of his life here.  I am so impressed.

A nurse and doctor in Boston treat the homeless.  The doctor goes out into the streets to find people and care for them.  The nurse encourages into her clinic, where they soak the feet of the homeless who learn to trust them to get the care they need.  Wow.  Just watch.

The other six programs were wonderful as well.  Watch this movie.  Currently it is on Amazon Prime. If you want to bring some joy into your life and learn about more ways to help others.  Watch it.

Kindness is what will heal our world. Listening to others.  Being a friend. Appreciating what we can and helping others, in my mind, can make such a difference to the divide that is now hurting our country.  

Every human being deserves to live a life to the fullest of their abilities.  This documentary shows us how.