How to Boost Your Emotional Health By Being of Service and Practicing Kindness [Episode #780]
This week’s topic is: How to Boost Your Emotional Health By Being of Service and Practicing Kindness
I love this topic because I think intuitively we can feel how good it feels to be kind and to help others. However, there’s actually research supporting how this very much does nourish our mental and emotional health, which of course has a tremendous impact on our physical bodies and just the quality of our lives.
This is why we talk so much about our four cornerstones, and we rotate around focusing on them each week, which are our food, body, emotional wellbeing, and spiritual growth. Because unless we really honor this holistic approach, the wholeness that we are, we will continue to struggle and feel empty and not feel fulfilled and not really feel the fullness of the potential of our vitality and health.
And so I’m really excited to talk about some of the research correlated with this topic, as well as leave you with some ideas and tips on how you can incorporate this into your life. However, a little hint upfront, it doesn’t mean that you have to literally spend your whole weekends at a soup kitchen or a formal organized volunteer organization that can very much be part of this. It’s more about the intention in your day-to-day interactions. There are many ways to be of service in your current life which I’ll be sharing in today’s show.
Have you been wondering about this very topic? If you want to know the answer to this question sent in by a Beauty just like you, listen now to find out!
Hello Kimberly, I started volunteering my spare time for a program that helps troubled teens. Surprisingly, I have noticed that I have been feeling more aligned in my spiritual practice and emotionally balanced since I started at the center. Is it normal for service work to have such a big impact in my life?
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Namaste loves, and welcome back to our Thursday Q&A show where our topic today is How to Boost Your Emotional Health By Being of Service and Practicing Kindness. And so I love this topic because I think intuitively we can feel how good it feels to be kind and to help others. But as we’ll get into in our show today, there’s actually research supporting how this very much does nourish our mental and emotional health, which of course has a tremendous impact on our physical bodies and just the quality of our lives. This is why we talk so much about our four cornerstones, and we rotate around focusing on them each week, which our food, body, emotional wellbeing, and spiritual growth. Because unless we really honor this holistic approach, the wholeness that we are, we will continue to struggle and feel empty and not feel fulfilled and not really feel the fullness of the potential of our vitality and health.
And so I’m really excited to talk about some of the research correlated with this topic, as well as leave you with some ideas and tips on how you can really incorporate this into your life. But a little hint upfront, it doesn’t mean that you have to literally spend your whole weekends at a, at a soup kitchen or you know, a formal organized volunteer organization that can very much be part of this. But it’s more about the intention in your day-to-day interactions. There are many ways to be of service in your current life. So we will talk about that in just a moment.
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Q&A: How to Boost Your Emotional Health By Being of Service and Practicing Kindness
Okay, let’s get into our show today about boosting your own emotional health by being of service and practicing kindness. And just a reminder that we know now, it’s well documented that our, the formless parts of us, which include the emotional body, the mental body, the spiritual body, the true self, all of this is really key to nourish in order to living your best life. We can’t just focus on the form, we can’t just focus on the body and what we’re eating because then we run into frustration, then we wonder why we’re still bloated or we can’t get rid of the weight.
And in my personal experience, it wasn’t until I started to deal with my own anxiety and the repetitive thought patterns and triggers and wounds, which weren’t really addressed. They were just sort of covered over. And the pain inside me was then projected into trying to be perfect, trying to do more. And that of course, creates so much stress and inflammation, and then we don’t get the physical results we are looking for. So it’s really important that we talk about all of these topics. We really, um, here at the Feel Good podcast from the bottom of our hearts, just really understand. We really believe that all of these topics work together to really nourish you and to help you really feel your best. So all that being said, I am very excited to read the question today, which comes from Deborah Joe who lives in Montana.
Question around the topic of: How to Boost Your Emotional Health By Being of Service and Practicing Kindness: Hello Kimberly, I started volunteering my spare time for a program that helps troubled teens. Surprisingly, I have noticed that I have been feeling more aligned in my spiritual practice and emotionally balanced since I started at the center. Is it normal for service work to have such a big impact in my life?
Deborah, Joe, thank you so much for submitting a question. Thank you so much for being part of our community. I absolutely love the participatory aspect of this. I love hearing from you guys, sending you so much love to Montana, which I have not personally, I’ve never been to Montana or Wyoming, but those are states that are definitely ones on my list that I would love to get to one day. And you write, hello Kimberly. I started volunteering my spare time for a program that helps troubled teens. Surprisingly, I have noticed that I have been feeling more aligned in my spiritual practice and emotionally balanced since I started at the center. Is it normal for service work to have such a big impact on my life? So once again, thank you so much Deborah Jo for being in our community and also highlighting this important topic and bringing up to the forefront.
Research around How to Boost Your Emotional Health By Being of Service and Practicing Kindness
So let’s talk about the research first and then delve a little bit deeper in. So there’s a lot of studies around this now and, um, this idea of how service and, and kindness has an actual healing rejuvenative of fact on our wellbeing. So we’ll link to some of these in the show notes. One of them I wanna point out is a meta-analysis on over 400 studies on pro-social behavior. It was published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, and it found that others helping others in acts of kindness, such as volunteering help to increase overall happiness and wellbeing and reduced symptoms of depression. Again, this is over hundreds of studies. They’re finding this, you know, correlation, this actual measurable effect. And another one I wanna point out is from the journal emotion in 2017 at the univer from the University of British Columbia that found that even, and I love this one, acts of kindness, even simple everyday ones like smiling at a stranger on the street or holding a door open for someone, reduced stress and increased resilience.
So again, these little actions from the heart we’re able to create physiological changes, stress reduction, of course, this is so powerful and so healthy for us to realize it doesn’t always take this big huge effort. We don’t have to completely change our lives. We can just change our approach in our interactions that are already happening in our daily life. If we pause here for a moment and just reflect on all the little interactions that happen in your day, it could be, you know, walking by someone at a front desk or doorman, um, or security guard, or the barista at a coffee shop, or you know, a teller you’re checking out at a drugstore, your coworkers, other parents at your child’s school, um, you know, <laugh>, it goes on and on. There are probably dozens of interactions that we have in the day. So imagine instead of treating them as automated, if we actually drop down into this deeper place of connection and our hearts and we live more from this heart centric place, that makes a huge difference in everybody around us, the circles of the people that we’re interacting with.
But as this study is pointing out, it will make a difference in your health and your happiness. So I think this is sort of a huge revelation, and I think on some level, intuitively, we know that especially here in our community, we, we magnetize in, we’re so fortunate to magnetize in an incredible group of people, including you <laugh> drawn to this. And so deep down we can feel the truth of this. And of course, it’s just now being backed up by research, which sometimes the quantitative analysis helps to reinforce our intuitive guidance. It makes sense, it feels good, right? It resonates as truth that we’re meant to be cooperative, were meant to be in, um, communication from a more loving place with each other. And this intern does make our days better. So a couple other, um, studies I wanna point out here. This is in the Journal Happiness Studies.
I love those, your whole journal called that from 2018. Finding that positive Emotions and Social Connections, um, came, that came from volunteering, did increase life satisfaction. Another study from the journal of, so social psychology in 2013 found that acts of kindness were associated with improved physical health outcomes, including reduced inflammation, a lower risk of chronic diseases because of the stress, reducing effects of pro-social behavior. So think about this term, pro-social meaning we are, we are for connection, we are for the collective pro, right? We are here to serve in this way. And let’s not forget that this is an act of service. Every time we interact with someone, there is an opportunity to be of service and love, to be of service and kindness and to uplift that person. And you don’t know how impactful that can be. I’ll give you an example. I was in Hawaii with my children a few weeks ago, and this woman approached me.
We go to different places around, there’s a meditation site and there’s this forest and this woman approached me and an elder, you know, older woman, she’s probably in her seventies, maybe early eighties. And she said, I noticed you, and the last time I saw you, you gave me a really big smile. And she said to me, it filled my heart and made me feel really inspired. And I just felt like I had to say something to you today because it makes me really happy seeing you with your children, but also you, you, you, you lit up my day, you know, something like that. And then when she was telling me this, it made me feel warm and fuzzy and we had this beautiful conversation and she ended up telling me about her spiritual journey and about her life. And she loves to swim in the ocean every afternoon and say prayers.
And it was just this incredible enriching interaction. And you know, on one hand you could say, oh, you know, whatever, it’s just a few minutes out of your day. But then, you know, it begs the question, you know, what is life? What is a truly happy life made of? Is it just about the stuff we add up? Is it just about our achievements and the money? No, because if that was the truth, the richest people on the planet would be the happiest. And we all know that isn’t the direct correlation. So I would challenge us to say, and to believe and, and to look into and sit with this life is really about these interactions, these now moments which come continuously. And do we want to fill a life with now moments that are potent with kindness and connection and compassion, or do we wanna just rush through?
And so it was this incredible connection that I felt with this woman. And we, you know, we go to this, I take the kids there quite often. And so she said to me in their next interaction, and this is how deeply connection can go, being really present, listening to someone looking in their eyes, this helps someone be seen and heard. And this is a real act of service. She said to me, I feel as closely to you as I do to my grandchildren. <laugh>, you know, who she doesn’t always see that much, but what she was me, what she was talking about was this expansion of, you know, this sometimes really close circle. We hold really tight to start close friends and our family, but actually there is this opportunity to expand through service and kindness and connect deeply in all these daily ways. So, which leads me to the last, the last, um, study that I wanna bring up here.
Point #1 for How to Boost Your Emotional Health By Being of Service and Practicing Kindness: Formality vs informality
This is from 2010, the journal personality and social psychology, talking about kindness and service strengthening, social connections, social bonding, improving relationships, greater wellbeing, overall wellbeing being improved. So yes, uh, there’s a couple things that I wanna highlight here. Number one is formality versus informality. And I think it’s really important that we understand and, and embrace both potentially. The informality, like I said, is just living our lives with intention, intention to our values, and really choosing do, do we wanna be kind and loving and in service every day? And if we do choose that, I, for instance, start my day with an intention even before I meditate. It’s something I started a few months ago and it feels really good to me. And sometimes I don’t get to meditate, you know, if, if mosy or, or one of the kids is up really early, which is usually when I meditate, but sometimes I have to meditate a little bit later.
But the intention is always there. You know, I I it’s a little prayer of intention, dear spirit. My intention is to live with love, kindness, and compassion. Something along those lines, or may I be ever anchored in this day to love kindness and compassion to sort of set the tone. Intention is huge. Intention directs the pathway of our energy so we can create that in our life and let that flow through all of our many interactions and know that that really is a way to serve. So if you’re really busy <laugh> like me, and you’re listening to this and you think, oh my goodness, I can’t pack another thing in at the moment, you know, I’m in the midst of, you know, child raising and I’m working double shifts and I barely have time to wash my hair or whatever’s playing out for you in your life, just know that you can still be a powerful energy of service in your life. It’s not just about, you know, what we’re doing formally, but the ways in which we are living. And so that’s a conscious choice that you can actually make right here, right now and let it flow through your life. The other,
The other aspect is the formal volunteering and service, which is something that our lovely Deborah Jo pointed out to us at the beginning of the show, volunteering at a program to help troubled teens. And that is, of course, beautiful and wonderful and wonderful use of our time. If there is something that deeply resonates with you, whether it’s working with troubled teens or, um, homeless or, um, you know, some sort of spiritual organization or, um, you know, million things, right? A animal care, then it could be, uh, really lovely and, and wonderful and enriching to see how that might also fit into your life. So, you know, I, I love to give and give and share, and that’s what Sa Luna is founded on. That’s what my books are founded on with this idea of service. And that feels really great to me in my life.
And also what also, um, the ways in which I can serve, because I also have a very full life is, um, our meditation center that we go to on the weekends. I volunteer to maintain the family room, which is the room that we sit in. My older son is, is in the, um, meditation and Sunday school program, but I sit, we sit in this room anyway, so it’s just an add-on to vacuum and spray and wipe everything down. And it feels good to me to maintain that room and it fits in with our schedule because we’re always dri driving there anyways. So it’s just some extra time tacked on. So you might think about where you, your family are already sort of showing up in life, which you’re already drawn to what’s already in your flow and see how you could volunteer or, um, you know, be a service in some way.
It could be sharing about different, um, programs at your child’s school, whether it’s a bake sale or, you know, um, like a, some sort of fundraising. I mean, there really is, what I love about this topic is that there are no limits to how this can be expressed. It’s so unique and it’s so powerful that we can approach it in a million different ways that resonates with you personally.
Point #2 for How to Boost Your Emotional Health By Being of Service and Practicing Kindness: Reduces stress and builds self-esteem
Something else I wanna bring up about kindness and volunteering in service that I think is really important to remember is that the reason it feels good. So it’s been measured and we’ve talked about how it helps to reduce stress, right? It can improve your, um, self-esteem because you feel this purpose expansion in your life, this, this purpose of supporting others. But really, I think it comes down to this word, this expansion. And so this is something I covered a bit in You are more than you think.
You are actually more than a bit <laugh>. It’s a bit larger theme, especially in you are Warrior chapter, one of my favorite chapters in the book. And this is about how when we go beyond the little self, the Mimi, me, the ego, we feel better. We feel that we are part of the whole, we feel connection, which is where real joy lives. This is where creativity lives. This is where abundance lives. We want to give as generously as we can because it expands us, it expands us beyond this little focus on ourselves. Those of you that have formally volunteered in an organization can feel while you’re there. A lot of the times there’s this lightness, there’s this almost like I felt this giddy joy. You know, when I’ve, when I’ve done some of that work. And when we went to Rwanda some years ago in, um, service capacity, there is a, an joy that could only be experienced when you really are in service.
And so it’s because we are transcending the trap, the prison of the little me. We are transcending the ego. If we stay stuck in ego, we’re never gonna feel really happy because that’s not how we are designed to be. We’re meant to be in connection, cooperation. We’re meant to be tribal, we’re meant to be, um, you know, part of the collective, the expanded tribe, if you will, the wholeness allness everyone, right? Because the, the definition of a truth is that it’s true for everyone, not just most people, but everyone we can love and find a way to connect beyond even our, our little groups. And this is, this also reminds me of another personal situation I wanted to share with you, which was the impact that my backpacking journey had on me. And those of you that have been with me for a while, you know, I’ve written about my journey and my books.
I’ve shared it from a health and beauty context and really did expand my ideas of holistic health and, you know, living in this expanded way, connected to nature, moving past just quantitative analysis. But there was this really other powerful aspect of the backpacking journey, and that is, I stopped using the word stranger. And when you’re on the road for that long, you realize, oh, <laugh>, we really are so connected. I could just go up to, you know, most anyone, even if they were a little bit closed at first and start up a conversation, ask questions, and immediately, pretty immediately feel a connection. And of course the truth is some of us are more closed than others, and that’s okay too. You can also intuitively feel on the road who’s open. And I ended up traveling with so many different people, which in and of itself was an incredible enriching experience.
People from many different countries. And I found a way to befriend, connect, share some really deep experiences and insights with people that were so-called strangers. People that I had, I’d known less than 12 hours or two hours sometimes or one hour, right? But it, this connection, the kindness, this heart connection transcends time. It transcends the surface. Oh, we speak a different language or you look different than me. You are far older or far younger, or, oh, we, we have, you know, different ideas about this or that. When we drop down into this place of kindness and conscious connection through service, we could say just showing up and listening to people and being kind to them, we find that a lot of the limitations that we felt this constriction in busy modern life, oh, we don’t have enough time. Oh, I feel stressed. A lot of that can be healed.
A lot of that can be healed from our own intentions and the own, the the ways in which we decide to approach our lives. So I’ve never felt that kind of, I had never felt that kind of joy up until that point. And part of it was the freedom of being on the road, but part of it was just this expansion and feeling so connected to people. I was meeting on these third class trains in China and, you know, Mongolia and having tea with a bunch of Irish people that I met in a Cambodian youth hostel and so on and so on.
And I remember these two incredible women, um, that I met on a farm in, uh, I wanna say it was in Zimbabwe, I believe out in the country somewhere. And they took me into their, their, their, their hut. This, this place they were living and they were just sharing about their life. And I felt so much love and I was sharing a little bit about my life and it was like we were best friends, <laugh> and I still remember them to this day. And you know, I tried to send letters. I don’t know if they got them or not. Um, there’s certainly no computers there at the time. And I don’t know if there are now, but these impressions of love, these connections, that woman I talked to in Hawaii that lasts, that matters. All these interactions do matter, you know, and this is what makes a fulfilling life.
This is what we can be really grateful for. This is what expands our health. This is so nourishing to our emotional wellbeing. This is part of increasing our vitality. So I encourage you to check out the show notes if you feel so inclined to go a little bit deeper and to read about some of these formal studies if you’re interested and, you know, to contemplate some of the things we talked about today. But the main is that we can choose to live with intention, connection, and kindness, to be of service in everyday ways, and then also to know that we can formally volunteer and to be of service. And that is an amazing use of our time as well. And that will only enrich our, you know, ourselves, our communities, our own health, the wellbeing of others. Because at the end of the day, we’re all one, one for all and all for one.
This is a world, a universe of connection, whether we fully understand that or not. There’s a, there’s an energy, there’s a unification that is underneath everything. And so you can feel that we tap into that and we tap into that love, kindness, and compassion. So thank you. I am so grateful for you and please keep your questions coming. You can also write to me personally, you can, um, you know, go on the website. There’s lots of different ways to connect with me and I love you. I appreciate you and thank you for listening. We’ll be back here Monday for our next interview show or solocast. Till then, take care and sending you so much love. [inaudible].