We all experience negative emotions such as stress & anger but how do we reduce them before they cause long term damage? Well, the first port of call for many of us in the Western world is a large glass or even a bottle of wine, recreational drugs or even prescribed medication.
All provide great short term benefits, but each has its own side effect & if used in excess, can damage our physical/mental health. We tend to do this for various reasons, sometimes we need a quick result, other times we don’t know an alternative way. Tibetan Buddhism teaches the most effective way of reducing negative emotions, is by cultivating & increasing compassion & selflessness (altruism) When we think kind thoughts or do nice things for another person, chemicals such as Seratonin (Natural Happy Chemical) are released into our body & therefore our mood is lifted. Have you ever noticed how great you feel when you give gifts at Christmas or birthdays? The act of giving seems to create more joy than actually receiving but it isn’t just about materialism. Just a simple act of Altruism can impact so many people and touch their lives in ways you can’t imagine.
Here’s an example; John has worked for the same company for 25 yrs but for the last 10 years, that job has become more stressful. More responsibilities have been put on John and he isn’t able to manage his workload. He isn’t getting any younger and is afraid of losing his job so he works late most nights to get things finished. John’s manager notices him working late, but isn’t aware of John’s stress. All he’s interested in, is getting the products out on time. John is seeing less & less of his family so he and his wife argue a lot. His wife is almost always sad these days but they have a mortgage to pay so nothing can be done. All their friends have stopped visiting because the atmosphere is tense and they leave feeling sad. This has a knock on effect on their friends & families too. Eventually John starts to feel ill and collapses at work, so needs to take time off sick. He is visited by his manager who responds very differently than John expected. John’s manager is so affected by his stress, he agrees to help John by first reducing his workload and distributing tasks more evenly, also authorising paid holidays for him with immediate effect. This takes so much pressure off and immediately his wife’s mood improves. John’s health begins to improve too but all their friends notice the positive change. Because of this, lpeople start to visit more and they carry the joy into their own circles etc. So here we can begin to understand how one act of compassion by John’s manager impacted so many lives.
There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t show regular acts of compassion and altruism but in our busy competative Western culture we’re often in it only for ourselves and what we can achieve. Despite this fact, evidence shows we have the highest levels of Mental Health problems, Workplace Stress & Depression.
What are your thoughts on Compassion & Altruism being the greatest reducer of Negative Emotions?
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