A Dance for the Mind
The ballerina winces as the nurse inserts an IV into the pale crook of her arm, releasing a cocktail of drugs into her body. The middle-aged patient leans back in her chair and closes her eyes. But before she falls asleep, a chorus of "oohs" and "aahs" erupts from the 30 other patients in the cancer-treatment center. She opens her eyes to see a maplewood harp entering through the door, wheeled in by a smiling Karen Larsen. Larsen moves her harp to an empty space in the room, next to the woman's chair.
Larsen's fingers begin to strum, pluck, and dance across the strings, and conversations quiet as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" fills the room.
Larsen says she is amazed at music's power to lift the spirit. In her own experiences coping with death and illness, music gave her strength to carry on. Helping others receive the same comfort "is a great privilege," says Larsen.
An hour and a half later, Larsen stands to leave. "Thank you," the dancer tells her. "I stayed awake the whole time, dancing in my mind."
Lesson 100 in my book Six-Word Lesson for Exceptional Music Lessons is "Teachers, fill your glass full first." The chapter addresses getting enough rest and not skipping meals or routine exercising so to be the "best for your students." Many studies have been done, with astounding and positive results, on how general happiness and "feeling good" can be a direct result from being kind and serving others.
In a study, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers created and administered a survey which measured life satisfaction. After the survey was completed, one group of participants were instructed to perform an act of kindness, on a daily basis, for 10 days. Another group received no such instructions. After 10 days were up, the life satisfaction survey was administered again to all participants.
The group that practiced kindness showed a significant boost in happiness; the other group didn't express any different level of happiness from when they took the first survey. "The findings suggest that good deeds do in fact make people feel good - even when performed over as little as 10 days . . . " (Acts of Kindness and Acts of Novelty Affect Life Satisfaction Kathryn E. Buchanan & Anat Bardi Journal of Social Psychology Vol. 150 , Iss. 3,2010)
Teachers and musicians, let's remember to fill our glasses first by providing kind service and compassion to others using the talents with which we have been blessed.