A reminder to be kind for better health


By Lindell Joseph

As I reflect on the past few months, there has been a constant call on social media to be kind. That tells me that there is something in the air. Is this upheaval occurring where we work, pray or play? This observation may be because of conflict, which may be a response to people behaving in unacceptable ways or people feeling afraid or victimized. How we respond to these events and moments of conflict can influence our health and well-being.


These moments of conflict may not necessarily be a bad thing. Conflict may allow us to increase our prayer to discern our own lives or coach us on how to respond in a future situation for personal and spiritual growth. As we begin the Lenten season, conflict is a reality and may occur due to the personal sacrifices required during the Lenten season or based on environmental circumstances whether or not they are within your control. The key spiritual guidance on conflict is to remember Ephesians 4:32, “Be generous to one another, sympathetic, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.”

Did you know of medical evidence about kindness and forgiveness?


Kindness has been linked to a reduction of stress and anxiety, a reduction of inflammation, a reduction in pain, a longer life and an increase in feelings of wellbeing.

Kindness can increase your connectivity with others, which can directly affect loneliness, improve low mood and enhance relationships.

An unwillingness to forgive can result in chronic stress and depression. There is increasing evidence between forgiveness of others and a range of psychosocial well-being and mental health outcomes.

The inability to forgive affects your blood pressure and increases your risk of heart at­tacks.

Here are some “heal­thy habits” to practice kindness and forgiveness:

• Be intentional. Envision kind emotions of empathy or respect and then use this to guide actions. Generate kind thoughts such as gratitude. Engage in kind behaviors. Ask yourself, how am I going to practice kindness today? Journal your acts of kindness for later reflection. Use social media to promote acts of gratitude and kindness.

• Decide to forgive. As we begin the Lenten season, let’s use social media, Scripture and the need for health and well-being to spread more kindness. I challenge you to consider kindness as a Lenten sacrifice and to remember Romans 12:18. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all and spread love through acts of kindness and forgiveness.


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(Lindell Joseph, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a nurse, professor, and director of the MSN/CNL program at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. She is a parishioner of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City. She is a lay Carmelite who co-chairs the Healthy Habits Ministry at her parish.)

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