Why Study This Mantra...To establish being selfless as a mainstay in your life. This, in turn, will be sure to reap constant rewards not just for others... but for you!
You will establish being selfless as a mainstay in your life. This, in turn, will be sure to reap constant rewards not just for others... but for you!
When it comes to making a better life for yourself, being more giving may seem like a curious place to start. But there's no better foundation for working on yourself than establishing selflessness. It grounds you. It connects you. It calms you down and relieves stress. It gives you a kick of oxytocin. It boosts you up. It gets you feeling warm inside.
This month, you'll learn to integrate little acts of kindness into your everyday life. For your monthly challenge, you'll set yourself up for a life of altruism for months (and years) to come.
Before you begin...
Before you start thes practices and challenges, take a moment to rate yourself on this mantra. Give yourself a score from 1-10 (10 being the highest).
Do this again at the end of a month of practices and challenges. How much have you grown?
Random Acts of Kindness
Today's affirmation: "I value kindness"
As I put on this mantra this morning, I am making a promise to myself that I'll do at least ONE random act of kindness today. It can be anything large or small, as long as it is perceived by another as a kind act, without expectation of reciprocation.
Each time I look at my wrist, this mantra will remind me of my promise.
Of course, I am not limited to one random act per day. I can (and should) perform as many as opportunity allows.
Start a Give Calendar
Giving altruistically, that is, without expectation that you get anything in return, is one of the healthiest actions you can take for yourself. It's also one of the hardest to prioritize, especially in today's busy world.
This month, get started on your Give Calendar. Pull out your journal and start brainstorming. Choose 12 actions and/or charities that speak to you and your passions. Some can involve giving time; others money. You could volunteer at a food shelter. Donate your old clothes to Goodwill. Plant a tree in a park. Whatever works for you.
Next, you're going to do one of these activities each month for the next 12 months. You don't need to determine which activity goes when. You only need to figure out how you're going to stay committed. We recommend using your favorite life planner, like the calendar or reminder apps on your phone.
Try to focus on local charities/recipients or causes you have a particular closeness to.
At the end of the day, write down what kind acts I did, how it made me feel, and how it made the recipient feel.
The Universal Importance of Giving
Giving and altruism has been shown to be a fundamental behavior in our ancestors. In a study from 2012, research on the behavior of brown capuchin monkeys “found one monkey willing to do another favors if the first monkey was the only one to choose, and we found the monkeys became even more prosocial if they could alternate and help each other. We did not find any evidence that the monkeys paid close attention to each other's past choices, so they were prosocial regardless of what their partner had just done.”
The impact on happiness in humans has also been researched. Research showed increased happiness being experienced as a result of prosocial behavior across rich and poor countries, that the recollection of past prosocial behavior has a causal impact on happiness, and buying items for charity had a higher positive effect than when people bought items for themselves, even when this prosocial spending did not provide an opportunity to build or strengthen social ties.”
What Happens to Our Bodies When We Give?
Research has not only found increased happiness in primates, children and adults through prosocial behavior, but has also found physiological positive effects from giving.
Reward areas of the brain are activated when people give to charity.4 Conversely, exercising the choice not to give can increase cortisol levels in the body, a stress hormone that has been linked to a variety of health problems.
In older test subjects, those who gave over long periods of time showed better overall health, including fewer sleep disorders and better hearing. Other subject also showed greater physical strength!
Conditions In Which Giving Has the Largest Positive Impact
Research has shown three primary elements contribute to positive impacts on happiness through giving. Taken together, this research suggests that the emotional benefits of prosocial spending are likely to be greatest when giving satisfies the needs for relatedness, competence, and autonomy.4 These align with Self Determination Theory which seeks to explain the motivation of individuals and the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Part of the benefit of the journey you’re on is that you are not receiving a reward for the work you do. The mantras you receive as well as the daily practices you are recommended are entirely up to you to implement into your lives. This lies at the core of the Bodhi Band journey. The program is simply a guide, not a reward or directive. As such the positive feelings you experience by completing the program and living up to your full potential will be that much greater!
Exposure to Simple Acts of Kindness Can Have a Large Impact
The simple act of being exposed to kindness media has shown to result in not only feelings of happiness but also increased generosity. In a recent study published in January 2021, exposure to kindness media in a pediatric ward (targeting parents and staff) increased feelings of happiness, calm, gratitude and optimism. It also resulted in decreases in feelings of irritability and anxiousness. They also showed higher rates of generosity when given the opportunity to donate their reward for participating in the study.
Finding the right charity or organization to donate your time and resources to can be a daunting task. Here is an interesting article by Michal Ann Strahilevitz Ph.D. that can help guide you on an approach to selecting a charity. Charitable Giving Guide: Maximize Both Happiness and Impact | Psychology Today6
For more detailed information on charities, Charity Navigator - Your Guide To Intelligent Giving | Home7 provides immense resources for evaluating organizations to help you find the best organizations for you to support.
We also recommending watching the 16-minute Ted Talk The Happy Planet Index.
- Reciprocity an Important Component of Prosocial Behavior. yerkes.emory.edu, Emory University, 3 September 2012, http://www.yerkes.emory.edu/about/news/developmental_cognitive_neuroscience/Reciprocity_Important_to_Prosocial_Behavior.html
- Aknin LB, Barrington-Leigh CP, Dunn EW, Helliwell JF, Burns J, Biswas-Diener R, Kemeza I, Nyende P, Ashton-James CE, Norton MI. Prosocial spending and well-being: cross-cultural evidence for a psychological universal. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2013 Apr;104(4):635-52. doi: 10.1037/a0031578. Epub 2013 Feb 18. PMID: 23421360.
- Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J.K. & Dunn, E. W. (2012). Giving leads to happiness in young children. PLoS ONE, 7(6), e39211
- Dunn, Elizabeth W., Lara B. Aknin, and Michael I. Norton. "Prosocial Spending and Happiness: Using Money to Benefit Others Pays Off." Current Directions in Psychological Science (forthcoming).
- Fryburg DA, Ureles SD, Myrick JG, Carpentier FD, Oliver MB. Kindness Media Rapidly Inspires Viewers and Increases Happiness, Calm, Gratitude, and Generosity in a Healthcare Setting. Front Psychol. 2021 Jan 20;11:591942. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.591942. PMID: 33551910; PMCID: PMC7854918.
Strahilevitz, M. Charitable Giving Guide: Maximize Both Happiness and Impact. Psychologytoday.com, Sussex Publishers, LLC, 17 December 2012, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-money-and-your-heart/201212/charitable-giving-guide-maximize-both-happiness-and-impact