This Sunday was the New York City Marathon, one of my all-time favorite events to watch. Although I most likely will never run in the marathon (each year I vow to run…you never know?!), I absolutely LOVE watching as thousands of humans run an astonishing 26. 2 miles through the streets of New York City with such grit and determination. I love how each person is unique – different shapes and sizes, different backgrounds and stories, different life challenges, and everyone with their own unique motivation to run.
But the runners are not the only thing I find truly inspirational. I LOVE watching the crowds of onlookers cheering, clapping, and shouting with such heartfulness, love, and kindness the names of perfect strangers as they pass by.
After almost two years of isolation, social distancing, and anxiety about being together, it is SO nice to share in moments of true human connection. Author Glennon Doyle summed it up so beautifully about this year’s race and her experience watching from the sidewalk:
[I] cheered and yelled and cried for every single warrior who passed us. Young and old, in wheelchairs and on their feet, with fists in the air and with heads down crying – every single one moving, moving forward relentlessly, all channeling some kind of inner strength that left me with my heart in my throat for hours and hours on end. It was endless, the parade of purpose and perseverance and power. 30,000 strong, I’m told.
Many of the runners wore their names on their bibs so we got to cheer them on by name . . . Each – upon hearing their own name yelled by a stranger- would perk up a bit, pick up their step, smile, often tear up- and carry on. Like the personal love was fuel. Like the love was actual FUEL for them.
It is. It IS!! LOVE IS FUEL I SAW IT WORK. I saw it pour from strangers into other strangers and PROPEL THEM again and again with my own amazed red eyes.
The marathon was the perfect start to the week, which is World Kindness Week. Kindness is contagious. We have had enough of spreading things that are bad for us – let’s spread some good stuff all around!
Not only do acts of kindness make others feel good and spread kindness into the world, they also boost your own feelings of well-being and improve your health. Research studies have found that kindness offers SO many benefits:
❤️ Increases self-esteem, empathy and compassion
❤️ Improves mood
❤️ Decreases blood pressure
❤️ Lowers levels of stress hormones in the body
❤️ Lowers inflammation and the negative impact of stress on the body
❤️ Increases human connection (which has its own health benefits)
❤️ Decreases feelings of loneliness
❤️ Boosts the feel good hormones serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being
❤️ Increases the release of endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain killer
Lastly, please remember to be kind to yourself! You deserve your own kindness as much or more than anyone else!