Relationship Advice

Central to being beautiful and happy with ourselves is having good relationships with others. If you have high quality social interactions, you can help stave off depression and add years to your life. Relationships are truly a fun and meaningful path to anti-aging!●      Do you have strong and healthy relationships that contribute to your happiness?●      Have you found ways to give to others and show gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given?You probably know someone who arrives at your doorstep with freshly-baked muffins anytime you need a pick-me-up (or maybe you’re the one running around when friends are down). There’s actually a survival value to feeling empathy for others. When you team up with a community to get a job done, you’re more effective than if you do it alone. Our moral system is dependent on how connected we feel to others. And the more strongly connected we feel, the greater our generosity and compassion.QUIZ: How Do You Act in Relationships?Without Empathy, There Would Be No RelationshipsYou probably think empathy is all about your heart, but it’s really based in your brain. When someone does something around you (yawns, crosses her arms), do you realize that you’ll often pick up on it and start mimicking the same action? That’s thanks to mirror neurons, tiny neurological video cameras, which record life as it happens. They help children learn and are the reason why you might pick up an accent after living someplace long enough.These neurons in different parts of the brain start firing in response to people’s actions. Over time, these mirror neurons have increased in size, because they helped our ancestors to learn and survive. The coolest thing is that these mirror neurons react to emotions, and generate empathy.Social emotions like guilt, shame and lust are based on the uniquely human mirror neuron system found in the part of your brain called insula. It’s why you feel sad in the face of tragedy; you can empathize with people who experience it. Women appear to access this part of the brain more than men do, especially during childbearing years. Helping Others Makes You Feel Good and Improves Your HealthThere are few feelings as genuinely rewarding as knowing you’ve helped someone. Whether through a financial donation, a mentoring program or something as simple as giving up your seat on the bus, the effect of giving (altruisms big and small) is similar to the “runner’s high” (rush of endorphins).But unlike exercise-induced euphoria, this rush can last a long time. The evidence: Ninety percent of people who experience this high give their health condition a better grade than those who don’t. Your thoughts about helping others help strengthen your immune system, boost positive emotions, decrease pain and provide stress relief. Studies show that charitable heart attack patients recover faster than those who aren’t, and those who do volunteer work have death rates 60 percent lower then those who don’t!MORE: Beauty Inside and Out: Christina Hendricks, ActressBut here’s the catch: When you give something to somebody, find a way to allow them the dignity to pass it on to someone else. Though people very often need help, they don’t want to feel like charity cases. They want to feel like they can pass something along to others.So be explicit in your giving and ask how the recipient will “pay it forward.” This will help many more people than the one group you first targeted with your kindness.

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