Research and studies have the power to reveal interesting insights about ourselves and the world around us. They can even have a transformative impact on the choices that we make and the way we lead our lives.
What makes us happy in the long run? Why should you listen to your vibes? Is it possible for us to reduce crime in an entire country almost like magic?
In this blog post, I’d like to offer the answers to some of these questions based on research.
The longest study on happiness
The goal of the Harvard Study of Adult Development was to observe people for an entire lifetime in order to determine what really keeps people happy and healthy throughout life.
For 75 years, they tracked the lives of 724 men year after year, asking about their work, their home lives, their health, without knowing how their life stories were going to turn out.
Apart from sending questionnaires, to get a clear picture of their lives, they would interview them in their living rooms, get their medical records from their doctors, draw their blood and scan their brains.
The study involved people from diverse walks of life. There were factory workers, lawyers, bricklayers, doctors, even a President of the United States (John F. Kennedy).
So after more than 75 years what did the researchers discover?
Many of the men in the study believed that fame and wealth and high achievement were what they needed to go after to have a good life. However, Robert Waldinger, the director of the study, said that the most important lesson had nothing to do with wealth or fame.
The message they got from this 75-year study was: good relationships keep us happier and healthier.
They found that people, who are more socially connected, to family, friends, community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less connected.
To quote Waldinger,
It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. It turns out that living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health. High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced. And living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective.
They also observed that when looking back at these men when they were at age 50, the ones who reported being the happiest and the healthiest in their 80s were the ones who were most satisfied with their relationships at age 50.
The takeaway: Amidst our busy lives, cultivating and nurturing relationships is something that can often take a backseat.
We are also bombarded with messages throughout our lives that achieving success, accumulating more money and material possessions is the way to a happier life.
However, one of the regrets many palliative care patients express on their deathbed is that they wish they devoted more time for their relationships instead of accumulating money and possessions.
Maintaining and nurturing relationships can sometimes be challenging and may require a lot of effort, but few things can be as fulfilling and meaningful as good relationships.
The power of group meditation
Scientific research over the last few decades has revealed that daily meditation can have plenty of benefits in our daily lives.
But what if meditation has the power to impact a whole city or even an entire country for that matter? Now that might sound a little far-fetched. But, that is exactly what group meditations have demonstrated repeatedly.
From January 2007 through 2010 over 1,725 participants gathered to practice group Transcendental Meditation (a meditation technique) at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa, America.
Before the experiment was underway, scientists theoretically predicted that the square root of 1% of the U.S. population (about 1,725 people) meditating together would result in a significant decrease in violent crime in the country.
Statistical analyses showed the rising trend of murder rates during 2001-2006 was reversed during the 2007-2010 study period.
They found that variables such as economic trends, incarceration rates, seasonal cycles, demographic changes, and policing strategies, weren’t sufficient to explain the observed reduction.
In fact, crime rates fell significantly during the economic recession of 2007-2009, when it was expected to rise. According to a leading expert on crime and the economy, this was the first time since World War II in which crime rates failed to rise during a major economic downturn.
Now some could brush this off as coincidence, but the powerful effects of group meditations conducted over a period has been repeatedly proven around the world.
The Global Union of Scientists for Peace (GUSP) cites 23 scientific published studies showing practising Transcendental Meditation by a small portion of the population can defuse societal stress, reduce associated violence, conflict, war and terrorism, and promote peace.
The takeaway: We live in a funny world where countries try to achieve peace by going to war, however, as Albert Einstein once remarked “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”
This study is testament to the fact that there are simple and concrete solutions towards promoting peace in our world, perhaps what’s only required is the willingness to take such steps.
ALSO READ: 4 Easy Ways By Which Anyone Can Meditate
Vibes don’t lie
For this experiment, parapsychologist Dean Radin and researchers at the University of Nevada placed individuals in a doctor’s examining room while wearing heart and blood-pressure monitors.
In a different room, a researcher asked another person to think either positive or negative thoughts about the person wearing the monitors. The two people didn’t know and couldn’t see each other. The person wearing the monitors wasn’t aware of the experiment.
Whenever the stranger would think positive thoughts about the monitored person, the latter’s heart rate and blood pressure would decrease. When negative thoughts were directed toward the person, his or her heart rate and blood pressure increased.
Excerpted from Nutrition for Intution by Doreen Virtue
The takeaway: Our body responds to good and bad vibes, therefore trust the vibes you receive while you are interacting with people and don’t dismiss them as your imagination.
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