[BLANK_AUDIO] Pictured here is the world’s happiest man. His name is Matthieu Ricard. He is a French geneticist and as you might have guessed from the picture, a Tibetan monk. How did he receive the title as the world’s happiest man? Well when neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin at Madison attached 256 sensors to the monk’s skull and had him meditate on compassion, his brain produced gamma waves that were off the charts, readings that had never ever been reported in neuroscience.
In addition, he also showed a lot more activity in the brain’s left prefrontal cortex than the right. Remember the prefrontal cortex, we talked about that first class, that’s kinda human part of our brain. Well, the fact that he had more activity in his left prefrontal cortex, means that he has an abnormally large capacity for happiness, like altruism, curiosity and positive effect.
And a reduced propensity towards negativity, depression, withdrawal, as these three traits are generally shown more in people of more activity on the right side of their prefrontal cortex. But wasn’t just him. In the same study they looked at other people, they found similar changes in the brain functions of long term meditators and even some changes in the brain functions of individuals with just three weeks of doing meditations for 20 minutes per day.
Why should you care about this as a nurse? Well, for one, you wanna be happier, don’t you? People who are happier, they have more joyful and fun life and they’re usually able to be more resilient in difficult times. But there’s another reason. In another study that was done at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, they had people do two weeks of that compassion meditation training.
And what they found is they actually had less emotional distress when they were witnessing people who were suffering. As a nurse, many of you are exposed to sadness and suffering all day long, or if you’ve got the night shift, all night long. This can lead to high levels of distress, or empathetic burnout.
You may recall the stats that Meredith talked about at the beginning of the course. 60% of nurses report stress-related burnout. And you remember, burnout actually has been linked to patient infection rates. So burnout is a critical issue that needs to be addressed, not only for your career success, but also for the health of your patients.
The study show that in comparison to a group who went through re-appraisal training, those who practiced that compassion meditation tended to look more directly at suffering in negative images relative to their neutral photos and they also showed less activity in the amygdala, the insula and the orbitofrontal cortex. Which are areas of the brain that are usually more active when experiencing emotional distress.
These results suggest that compassion meditations could be a good mechanism through which people may become calmer in the face of suffering. All of these findings seems to suggest that compassion meditations may be a great option for you as a nurse. As I don’t know many nurses who wouldn’t wanna be happier on a day to day basis.
And who wanna reduce their chances of getting burned out, due to the emotional distress that takes place when you’re witnessing suffering day in and day out. So why not try it out? To help you out with this, Meredith created a compassion meditation designed specifically for you as a nurse, which she’s gonna go through in the next section.
[UNKNOWN] Go through that, try that out and then maybe do it once a day for the next couple weeks or so and see if it helps you as you’re going through your day to day life as a nurse or a nursing student. Turn it over to Meredith now.
So the aim of this exercise is to heighten your compassion for yourself and those around you. Let’s begin. Start by getting yourself into a comfortable, relaxed position. You could be lying on the ground or sitting in a chair. Go ahead and uncross your arms and legs, and simply let the ground or chair support your body.
[BLANK_AUDIO] Now, I want you to close your eyes, or find a spot on the floor or ceiling to focus on. [BLANK_AUDIO] Simply notice your breath. Notice as the air moves through your nose, down your airway, into your lungs, as your chest rises. Notice as your breath leaves your lungs, moves into your airway, and out through your nostrils.
Just feel your breath moving in and out of your body. [BLANK_AUDIO] For just a few moments, focus on your breath, but don’t control it. Realize that your body will breathe in and out on its own. [BLANK_AUDIO] Perhaps by now you notice that you feel a little bit more relaxed.
Simply allow your body to find its own rate and rhythm of your breath. [BLANK_AUDIO] With each inhale, take in happiness and peace. With each exhale, let stress and tension out. [BLANK_AUDIO] Allow yourself this time to relax and just enjoy these moments for you. I want you now to count down silently from ten to one with each inhale.
Envision your stress just dissolving with each exhalation. [BLANK_AUDIO] Notice the sensations throughout your body. [BLANK_AUDIO] Bring your awareness to your inhalations and exhalations. [BLANK_AUDIO] Now move that awareness to your heart center. Notice the qualities of your heart. If it feels guarded in any way, see if you can soften or melt away those walls protecting your heart.
[BLANK_AUDIO] Think of yourself, your happiness, your own peace. Place yourself with the focus now, focus on the qualities of compassion, kindness, calmness, happiness, and resilience. [BLANK_AUDIO] Silently, in your heart, repeat to yourself these kind words. May I experience peace. May I live free from suffering. [BLANK_AUDIO] May I feel compassion.
[BLANK_AUDIO] May I remain resilient. May I be happy. [BLANK_AUDIO] Pick one or a couple of these phrases, or even a different phrase that really speaks to you in this moment. Repeat those words silently to yourself in the next few moments, sending those qualities and wishes straight into your heart center.
[BLANK_AUDIO] Now I want you to bring this image of a loved one into your heart. This could be your significant other, family member, friend, or even a pet. Feel this loved one’s presence inside your heart. Silently say to them, may you experience peace, may you live free from suffering, may you feel compassion.
May you remain resilient. May you be happy. [BLANK_AUDIO] For the next few moments, allow this person to take up space in your heart, filled with warmth and caring. [BLANK_AUDIO] Now release this person on their way, having been touched by your compassion and kindness [BLANK_AUDIO] Next, think of someone you personally do not know.
This could be someone you saw jogging on the bike path on your way to work. Or the person who opened the door for you at the grocery store. Maybe it’s a hospital patient you saw being transported back to his or her room after a procedure [BLANK_AUDIO] Bring the image of this person into your heart center.
Feel that person’s presence in your heart as you repeat to them. May you experience peace. May you live free from suffering. May you feel compassion. May you remain resilient. May you be happy. [BLANK_AUDIO] For the next few moments, allow this person to take up space in your heart filled with warmth and caring.
[BLANK_AUDIO] Now release this person on their way, having been touched by your compassion and kindness. [BLANK_AUDIO] Now I want you to envision someone you highly dislike. Someone who has hurt you or hurt someone you love. Maybe you know this person on a personal level. Or maybe this person is a colleague or perhaps it’s someone you used to know.
[BLANK_AUDIO] Bring the image of this person into your heart center. Feel that person’s presence in your heart as you repeat to them, may you experience peace. May you live free from suffering. May you feel compassion. May you remain resilient. May you be happy. [BLANK_AUDIO] For the next few moments, allow this person to take up space in your heart filled with warmth and caring.
[BLANK_AUDIO] Now release this person on their way, having been touched by your compassion and kindness. [BLANK_AUDIO] Finally, expand and share your heart with all beings. Bring this image into your heart center. Feel the presence in your heart as you repeat to all beings. May all beings experience peace. May all beings live free from suffering.
May all beings feel compassion. May all beings remain resilient. May all beings be happy. [BLANK_AUDIO] For the next few moments, allow all beings to take up space in your heart filled with warmth and caring. [BLANK_AUDIO] Now release all beings on their way, having been touched by your compassion and kindness.
[BLANK_AUDIO] Before we bring our awareness back to the room, I want you to take a moment to notice how you feel. How do you feel when your body is relaxed, and your heart is filled with an abundance of compassion and kindness? [BLANK_AUDIO] Now bring your awareness to the breath.
[BLANK_AUDIO] The sounds of the room. [BLANK_AUDIO] Begin to move around a little. [BLANK_AUDIO] And when you’re ready, open your eyes, awake, and refreshed. [BLANK_AUDIO]
[BLANK_AUDIO] Do you remember that propensity and illness equation that we talked about in the first class? Remember this was that equation that helped you to identify what’s the percentage chance that you’re going to get any kind of illness or disease that you may be prone to getting based on your genetics or your environment.
As you can see from here, stress as you may remember is in the numerator which means that the more stress you’re under, the greater your chances of getting that illness or disease. While those resiliency factors are in the denominator, which means that more of these that you incorporate into your life, the lower your chances of getting that illness or disease.
When I ask people in audiences what are some of the resiliency factors, many people say the usual thing like eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising. One that very few people mention, though, is social supports. Yet, you may be surprised to realize that there’s research out there that shows the tremendous impact the people you hang around with most have on your happiness, your well being, and even your health.
Let me give you two quotes and then talk to you about an incredibly extensive study to discuss this. The first quote comes from David McClelland, he’s a Harvard University professor and a human performance expert. What he says is that after 25 years of research, the choice of a reference group is more important in determining your success or failure than any other single factor.
[BLANK_AUDIO] Or as the personal development legend Jim Rohn puts it, you will become the combined average of the five people you hang around with most. You’ll end up with a combined attitude, the combined health, the combined income of the five people you spend the most time with. [BLANK_AUDIO] Think about that the combined anxiousness, the combined stress level, the combined resilience of the people you hang around with most.
I know it’s true for me and for many of the people that I talk to, when I’m around negative and stressed out people I feel more negative and anxious. But surrounded of people who are happy and have a joy for life, I feel more excited, more joyful, have more energy and everything like that.
The research shows this too, research shows the impact that the people you hang around with actually has in your health and your well-being. One of the most interesting studies that ever read about was the Harvard’s study of adult development. This was actually started in 1938 and it’s actually still going on today, the longest research study that I’ve ever heard of.
Actually they started back in 1938 and they started with tracking about a little over 700 individuals. They started with, one group was a group of Harvard sophomores, they were in their sophomore year of college. And then they took other individuals who actually kind of in the poor areas of Boston, and they tracked them throughout their entire lives.
They did, they would meet with them every single year, have them fill out- questionnaires, talk to them, talk to their family members, their spouses, everybody. They get their medical records, they do brain scans, blood tests, they would do all these studies. And they were trying to figure out what leads we’re looking at them over these 70 plus years, what actually leads to good health and well-being?
And what they found is that it didn’t have anything to do with their income level, their social status, or any physical things, how tall they were, how strong strong they were. What they found is that it had to do with relationships. The relationships that they built during their lives had more to do with their overall health and happiness later in life.
Some of the key things that they learned in this study with a good relationships keep people happier and healthier, period, that was the most important thing. Again, it doesn’t have anything to do with your IQ or anything else, it was their relationships. What Robert Waldinger in his TEDx Talk discussed, he said there were really three important lessons they learned from the study.
One, that social connections are good for us and loneliness kills. He found that people with close connections were happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer. But people who were more isolated or lonelier than they wanted to be, were less happy. They got sicker, they were ill earlier in life and actually their brain function declines sooner and they actually died sooner.
What they also found those that’s not certain number of friendships that you have or whether you’re in a marriage or committed relationships, is really just the quality of those close relationships that matter [BLANK_AUDIO] They found that good relationships don’t just protect the body, but they actually are great for the brain too.
Overall they found that the people who are the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. So this research and those quotes, really show the importance of being conscience of who you’re spending your time with. And how important that is to your happiness, your well-being, your health, really your overall fulfillment in life.
I wanna take you through an exercise now that’ll help you kinda identify this, it’s called a relationship assessment. Essentially, we’regonna go through it in the next section. For that section though, you’regonna need a blank sheet of paper and a pen, so make sure you got that before you move on to the next section.
[BLANK_AUDIO] As we talked about in the last section, it’s very, very important for you to be conscious of the people you’re spending the most time with. Because that’s gonna have an impact on your happiness, your health, and your resilience. For this exercise, what I want you to do is to identify the people that you’re spending the most time with.
And then we’re gonna kind of identify, are they a positive influence on your life or negative influence on your life? So if you’ll get that sheet of paper and that pen. And what I want you to do to start off is just, I’ll give you about one minute. And I want you to just jot down on that sheet of paper, from the top or the bottom, maybe 10 to 15 people that you spend the most time with.
Let me give you a little bit of time, like I said, about a minute to think about it. Don’t think too deep about it, but just start to write that off. Could be people that you work with, could be family members, could be friends, whatever it is, the people that you spend the most time with.
And go ahead and do that now. [BLANK_AUDIO] So you’ve got your 10 to 15 people who you spend the most time with down on that sheet of paper. Now what I want you to do is draw a little T-chart, [BLANK_AUDIO] Like that on your sheet of paper. What you’re gonna do now is you’re gonna identify one side that everybody should go on, okay?
The people who are gonna go on the left side are those that have a positive impact on your life. They’re the people that, as you can see here, help you find the best in yourself. And you’re happy when you’re around them. You feel relaxed, they make you smile, maybe make you laugh.
You feel loved, appreciated, and supported when you’re around them. And typically they’re more positive and optimistic. On the right side are going to be the people who have maybe more of a negative impact in your life. You can see the worst of you typically comes out when you’re around them.
You’re angry and frustrated maybe when they’re around. They make you feel stressed out, maybe make you sad. They make you feel like you’re a disappointment to them. And they’re probably a little bit more negative and pessimistic. So what you wanna do is take a look at your list now.
And start off just by looking and the list and say, all right, which of these people probably is number one when I think positive influence in my life? No question about it, it would be this person. So you jot down that person up top. Now jump to the other side.
Say all right, out of these people, which one is probably more of a negative influence and the most negative influence in my life? And again, if it’s close, it’s not that big of a deal. But we’ll just say, we’ll do. [BLANK_AUDIO] And what I want you to do is go back and forth.
Again, kinda prioritizing them as who’s the most positive. Most positive up here, all the way down, but they’re still on the positive side. Most negative at the top and then all the way down. Now I know you’regonna probably have some that might be kinda across the line, sometimes they’re positive and negative.
That’s okay, just put them more towards the bottom here. But make sure you go one side or another. You gotta make a choice on that, if they’regonna be on the positive side, or the negative side of that T chart. So I’ll give you a minute to do that now.
[BLANK_AUDIO] Let’s take a look at your list now. Do you have one side that has more people on it than the other? In my case, I’ve gotten more people on that left side which means I’m spending time with people, more people that are on the positive side than on the negative side.
What I really want you to do though is look at the people that are at the top of the list on both sides. If you recall, if you did it the way I said, is you’re putting the people who have the most positive impact first, all the way down.
And then the most negative impact first, all the way down. So you really wanna evaluate how much time you’re spending with the people at the top of each of these lists. Take a look at Greg here. I kind of identify, hey, Greg has the most positive impact on my life when I’m around him, but how much time do I spend with them?
Maybe I only see him once a month or something like that. What this is telling me is I probably should try to spend more time with him because he’s having a more positive impact on my life, being more optimistic, helping me to feel better, happier, laugh, whatever it may be, smile.
I should try to find ways to spend more time with Greg. Then the people on the right side here, you got Oliver and Marcia. I probably should try to spend less time with them if I can. Cuzthey’re having a more negative impact in my life. If I can, maybe I wanna eliminate seeing them at all, I can do that.
But sometimes you can’t do that, there may be family members or coworkers that we can’t eliminate completely spending time with them. But maybe we can reduce the amount of time we spend with them. So take a look at this list. Take some time now, as we finish this portion of the video, just to really take a look at who we’re spending time with.
How much time are we spending with each of these people? And then strategize ways that you can spend more time with these people and less time with these people. Cuz as those quotes and that research shows, these people are gonna have a much more positive impact on everything from your happiness, to your resilience, to both your health, your brain health, your body health.
So many positive things that are gonna come from building those strong positive relationships in your life. Take some time now, look through that, strategize on that, and then implement it in your life. Maybe call up a couple of these people and make a date to go out to dinner or something like that.
I’m confident if you do that, you’re gonna see a lot of positive results in your life.
[BLANK_AUDIO] I’d like to take a moment to just talk about the relationships that we form with our colleagues. One thing that I truly love about nursing is the bond we form with one another. Nurses are not just co-workers. When you work long 12 hour shifts, multiple times a week, caring for sick individuals you learn a lot about each other.
We go through everything together, we laugh, we cry. Some days we experience truly amazing things together. Often these things are wonderful, such as a baby’s first cry, or someone beating cancer or discharging a patient who scientifically just shouldn’t be alive. But sometimes we experience just the opposite. We care for others in their most vulnerable state.
Sometimes, we even provide comfort for them as they take their last breaths. We struggle together with how or why things happen in this world. Because of this, It’s so important that we support one another. [BLANK_AUDIO] And I’m not saying that everyone needs to get along with everyone, it’s human nature that sometimes personalities clash.
I personally don’t agree with every little thing my co-workers do or how they act sometimes, but at the end of the day, we can all agree that as nurses, we are there for our patients. And it’s our number one goal to provide the highest quality of care for that patient.
When you have great working relationships, think about how that impacts your patient care. So just remember we can all have the most supportive family and friends that we could ask for, but there’s no replacement for your fellow nurse, or students, your fellow classmates, that truly get you. No one will love you and support you quite like your nurse family.