Thinking about Valentine's day, I cannot help but go back in mind (time) to the wonderful age of 9 years old. Those valentine's days were the best. You got a little card from everyone in the class. More importantly, you took time in the days leading up to Valentine's Day to write each of your classmates' names on the cards. In essence, we were taking time to care for others. You brought your little cards to school, passed them out, or slid them carefully into a paper envelope that each student in the class made, and then hung it in front of their desk. After everyone passed out their cards, you had a little party with pink and red cupcakes, some candy hearts, chocolate, and opened the many cards you received from your classmates. Do you remember the feeling of opening each card? The rush of feeling cared about, that you are important, by your classmates. The strong sense of being cared for, liked by others. And the kindness that filled your classroom, making you appreciate this special day. The warm smile that spread across your face and your wide eyes singing with joy was contagious as this day filled your classroom with kindness and appreciation for the small tokens of friendships and togetherness.
Through the actions of children, we can learn to be better and find simple truths. As adults, we can show kindness, give kindness, and interact with kindness to increase community and joy in our hearts and change our brains.
What do I mean by changing your brain? Well, when we are joyful, our brain releases more dopamine. Dopamine is vital to our brain as it impacts our mood, ability to focus, heartbeat rate, learning, motivation, and more. By focusing on the present, we are intentionally making choices that improve our heart health, ability to focus on what is important, openness to learning new things, and most importantly, the real motivation to participate in all that life has to offer – our jobs, family, and hobbies. How do we start changing our brain to release more dopamine? The first step is to show kindness to our fellow humans in all ways possible. By giving a little piece of ourselves to others, a genuine act of kindness, we will receive far more in return.
You could try caring more by giving a friend a call out of the blue. You could purchase a sandwich for a stranger without them knowing. Give a card to someone who might need a smile. Send an email or text to someone to say "thank you for being you." Kindness, like dopamine, can spread and create physical changes in our minds and others. Why not change your brain while changing another person's life for the better to spread joy and love?
Welcome to loving yourself and others! Stick around, and let's go for a walk.
With compassion and kindness,
Co-host of the Act To Live Podcast
Let's Walk Together: The Act To Live Podcast Blog
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