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WEEK 5 - The Compassionists

Cultivate Love and Compassion to Connect with Yourself and with Others

Positive Health Principle #31

Master Empathy

Class #31

In today's class you will learn:

1.  What is the science based link between positive mindset and health

2. How positive and negative thoughts, feelings and emotions influence your physical state
3. What is the connection between depression and cardiovascular disease

Enjoy watching short video for inspiration and self-reflection, take one small inspired action to stay on track. 

REFLECT:  What is your understanding of empathy?

“Empathy is the antidote to shame.”


Brene Brown


health is

Feel It!


"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in
every difficulty.” Winston S. Churchill


Some of us are naturally optimistic, others not so much. Optimists always try to find something to be happy about; pessimists usually have something to worry about, for example, their health. How do these states relate to our physical wellbeing do they translate into medical outcome?


Well-designed meta-analyses have been carried out by the American Heart Association to answer the following question: is emotional and mental state of people with cardiovascular disease associated with their physical condition and if so, how does it impact their treatment and life expectancy?


A systematic review of prospective studies analysing the relationship between a positive mindset and health-related outcome among patients with coronary heart disease has shown that so-called positive wellbeing helps decrease the level of inflammation and is directly associated with a shorter hospitalisation time and lower mortality in 12 month follow-up. 


A study carried out by scientists in the Netherlands has found that naturally optimistic people are 45% less likely to die of heart disease and other causes than those with a high level of pessimism. Researchers have found that optimistic patients with cardiovascular disease undergoing bypass surgery experience fewer complications, recover faster and are in a better shape than pessimists. All these factors contribute to a lower rate of re-hospitalisation. 


Scientists investigated further looking to find if pessimists have perhaps shorter life expectancy than optimists because they are simply depressed.


The link between depression and cardiovascular disease has been well established. A solid medical evidence has shown that certain mental states, like depression, are associated with a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular death. Several well-designed studies have proven that depression can increase the relative risk of having the first heart attack by more than 50%, independently of other risk factors and for those who have already been diagnosed with heart disease, depression increases the risk of death about threefold.


People with depression and cardiovascular disease are also more likely to be readmitted to a hospital than those who are at a positive state of mind. A few studies have shown that positive social attitude described as optimism, hope, gratitude and general sense of wellbeing translate directly into our cardiovascular health.


After a thorough analysis of basic risk factors like blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking and alcohol consumption, it turned out that even if all these variable above were well controlled, there was still a significant excess of  both mortality and morbidity in the pessimistic group compared with the optimists. 


Assuming that these findings are reliable, and optimists have a survival advantage, what mechanism could explain it? 

One possibility is that optimists have well-developed resilience and may, therefore, be able to cope better with adversities. In fact, optimism is strongly associated with seeking social support and coping better with stress.


At this point, there is no medical evidence that pessimism in the absence of clinical depression is a risk factor for developing heart disease. Nevertheless, there is a strong evidence that psychotherapy and serotonin-enhancing antidepressants can enrich our natural personality traits like social engagement, even in people without depression.


Pessimists have constant worries and endless reasons to feel unhappy. If there is anything they should be worried about, however, is that they may have an undiagnosed, but treatable depression. Although treating depression may not guarantee a longer life expectancy, it can definitely make their life brighter and more enjoyable.


The Power of Positive Mindset


On empathy


Show a genuine empathy to the first person you meet today


Get ready for your weekly session.
In your fourth session you will explore the benefits of practicing self-compassion and set the following intentions: 
1.  Gain more clarity around the concept of self-compassion
2. Find three simple ways to practice self-compassion daily 
3. Start your self-compassion journal
Answer the questions in the Self-Compassion test (download No1), and go through the exercises (download No2) before your next session. Evaluate your session in the Self-Evaluation Worksheet (download No3).

1. Please make sure that you choose a convenient time and a quiet place for your Skype conversations.
2. Let the members of your household know when you need time for yourself, so you are not being interrupted.
3. Check your wifi connection and show up on time.
4. If you are unable to attend, you can still reschedule within the next few days before the Monday of the following week, if your guide has a free time slot. 
5. Your one-to-one sessions are an integral part of the Grace School curriculum. It is, therefore, fundamental that each session is in synchrony with the weekly Grace School module. 


All files attached below have been created to support and enhance your learning experience.
These are available for download for the next 7 days. Please make sure that you create your account to answer the questions in the Self-Compassion test (No1), and do the exercises (No2) before your next session.

Use the Self-Evaluation Worksheet (No3) after your session. At the end of the week reflect on your experiences and challenges. Summarise your week with the Self-Reflection Worksheet (No4).

Your WEEK 5 Downloads:

1.  Self-Compassion test - identify your level of self-compassion (approx. time 5 minutes)  
2. Exercise Worksheet - do the exercises before your next session (approx time 10 minutes)

3. Self-Evaluation Worksheet - evaluate your session and learn from your experience (approx time 10-15 minutes)
4. Self-Reflection Worksheet - at the end of the week reflect on your experiences and challenges (approx time 10-20 minutes)



If you have any questions, comments or technical problems, please write: and we will be happy to help.

We strive to respond within 24 business hours Monday-Friday 9am-5pm GMT. No personal information will be released or exposed.


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Thank You!

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