Vietnamese Buddhist monk and author Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “Peace in oneself, peace in the world.” Iconic singer and songwriter Michael Jackson wrote, “I’m lookin’ at the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways. No message could have been any clearer, if you wanna make the world a better place, just look at yourself and make a change.”
In The Now Effect you may have read about the science behind why everything you do matters,
The social scientists Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD, and James Fowler, PhD, conducted a study to look at the effect of social networks. To determine if there was a causal relationship for obesity, they mapped the relationships of 12,067 people who had more than 50,000 connections to other people that were assessed repeatedly from 1971 to 2003 (not online social networks such as Facebook but physical networks of people). They found that, indeed, “birds of a feather flock together.” However, they found something much more interesting: obesity doesn’t start and stop with immediate friends and family; it is “contagious” by up to three degrees of separation.
They also went on to find that loneliness is contagious by three degrees and that each person you have in your lifethat feels well boosts your chance of feeling well by 9%. In other words, the way people behave is contagious and causes a ripple effect across friends of friends of friends.
Think of it this way,
“When carbon atoms are arranged in a specific way, they make a diamond, but the diamond is not in each carbon atom. In the same way, each of our roles in mindfully engaging life can create a much larger social effect that is greater than each of us alone, having a significant influence on shaping our culture for the years to come and providing enormous healing.” ~ The Now Effect: How a Mindful Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life
Starting right now, get clear on what’s most important to you in life. What is something you care about that is greater than yourself? Maybe it’s the planet, or helping distressed people within your country or outside your country, or making a political impact.
Taking action alongside these values not only will make you feel good, but will also have reverberations that make this world a better place.
The science is clear. Believe it.
Elisha Goldstein, PhD
Founder of A Course in Mindful Living – coming September 2016
Adapted from Mindfulness and Psychotherapy