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Lions Roar : May 2019
3. Next, recall and visualize a specific sit- uation when you were feeling distressed or worried and one of these people com- forted and helped you. 4. Write a brief description of that situa- tion and the way you felt during it. Why It Works A great deal of research points to the importance of “attachment security,” a state that involves feelings of trust and comfort. When we feel safe and secure, our energy can be more easily directed toward caring for others. Reflecting on the people in our life who love and support us can increase our feelings of security and also remind us of the kinds of qualities we want to embody when MOST OF US WANT to be kind and caring, but that can be easier said than done, especially when we feel stressed, threatened, or insecure. Often in those moments, our natural reaction is to focus on ourselves and make sure that we’re safe instead of paying attention to other people’s needs and supporting them. But disconnecting from others can actually exacerbate our stress. This exercise helps free you from that downward spiral. It asks you to think about the people you turn to when you’re distressed and recall times when you’ve felt comforted by them. Research sug- gests that increasing momentary feelings of comfort by thinking about supportive relationships can make us more trusting, compassionate, and helpful toward oth- ers in general. HowtoDoIt 1. Make a list of the people you’re close to who offer you comfort or security. If it’s helpful, consider questions like: Who is the person you most like to spend time with? Who is the person it is hardest to be away from? Who is the person you want to talk to when you are worried about something? Who is the person you turn to when you are feeling down? Who is the person you know will always be there for you? Who is the person you want to share your successes with? 2. Write down six positive qualities that are common to these people, qualities that they strongly embody. GREATER GOOD The Kindness of Others Studies show that one of the best ways to become kinder and more secure is to contemplate the good that other people have done for us. Here is a four-step practice from Greater Good in Action to help us remember how others have been there when we needed them most. JW/UNSPLASH supporting others, thereby making us more likely to respond compassionately when we encounter someone in need. Evidence It Works In “Attachment, Caregiving, and Altru- ism: Boosting Attachment Security Increases Compassion and Helping” (Journal of Personality and Social Psychol- ogy), Mikulincer, Shaver, Gillath, and Nitzberg report on a study in which some participants reflected on a supportive relationship by engaging in this writing exercise. Others merely thought about an acquaintance or a professional relation- ship. Immediately afterwards, the people who reflected on the supportive relation- ship reported greater compassion for and willingness to help a person in distress. ♦ “Greater Good” is a collaboration between Lion’s Roar and the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. You will find more than fifty science-based practices for a meaningful life at ggia.berkeley.edu. LION’S ROAR | MAY 2019 22 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE