When Columbia University researcher, Kelli Harding began her clinical practice, she never intended to explore the invisible factors behind our health. But then there were those rabbits.
In 1978, an experiment designed to establish the relationship between high blood cholesterol and heart health in rabbits discovered that kindness — in the form of a particularly nurturing post-doc researcher who would pet and speak to the lab rabbits as she fed them — discovered kindness made a difference in heart health.
As Dr. Kelli Harding reports in her book, The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness, the rabbits were just the beginning of a much larger story. Groundbreaking new research shows that love, friendship, community, life’s purpose, and our environment can have a greater impact on our health than anything that happens in the doctor’s office — good medical care likely only accounts for 10 to 20% of our overall health status. So, the team repeated the experiment but this time with tightly controlled conditions and got the same results. Being kind made all the difference.
Population research has shown our social world is the major determinate of our health. Meanwhile, The Rabbit Experiment showed the rabbit group that were treated with kindness held 60% better health markers than the other rabbits.
Our health is determined by how we are treated in our day-to-day lives at home, in relationships, in workplaces, schools and in the community. Kindness and positive connections with people make a difference in our health!
The exciting news is that every day we have the opportunity to increase kindness and connection in all areas of our lives. Be intentional about thanking people who help you — including anyone who helps you in restaurants and stores. Recognize their hard work and thank them. Above all, be kind.
This week, set the intention to be kind in all your interactions with everyone. And so, remember, Matthew 7:12 ESV “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Love God and all people. Amen.
This post is brought to you as part of our Adair Drug Tuesday.