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When You Hear Music, You Dance

I am a lucky and grateful person. Like most people, I have gone through some difficult periods, including depression during my late teenage years. In my early twenties, I discovered the power of movement and music, and how dancing could make me feel less sad (thank you Stevie Wonder). And yet, despite working various gigs as a dancer, I was a hack, and I never considered myself to be a real dancer. I did love it though, and to this day, I have always admired the beauty, grace and talent of people who are/were real dancers. Perhaps this is why I have never been able to sit still no matter where I might be in the world, while music was playing, and there was space on the dance floor. 🙂 
And it is also why I love this story from Dr. Brooke Goldner about her grandmother, and the power of positive thinking.
Lifestyle medicine doctor Brooke Goldner is an inspiration and has become another trusted and valuable resource in the area of plant based nutrition. She was diagnosed with lupus as a teenager, and has endured a great deal in her journey of healing herself through the love and support of her family, and a healthy plant based diet (and other lifestyle factors as well). She shared this story in her latest book titled “Goodbye Autoimmune Disease.”

“My grandparents on my mother’s side are Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the United States after World War II ended. They had lost brothers and sisters and parents and grandparents between them to senseless murder. They had barely survived themselves. They had run from Poland to Russia, and instead of being trapped and tortured at Auschwitz or Lodge with their family, they were starving in a work camp in Siberia. In spite of everything they endured, they both were happy people, who told me that “every day you wake up is a good day”. My grandmother, even as an old lady, used to smile at her family and say “I’m a lucky girl!”. I took that to heart; I was free and loved and that was enough to feel lucky…

And yes it really is a choice. My grandmother told me the story of being released from the camps in Russia after the war. They were all unceremoniously dropped off at the train station to go back to Poland. After 2 years of forced labor, very little food, diseases, and despair, most of the people standing there didn’t really resemble people anymore. My grandmother said they had no muscles on their arms and legs, and their bellies were swollen from starvation. They did not know if they would ever see their families again back in Poland, or whether any of them yet lived. My grandmother said she was standing there waiting for the train, and she heard someone in the train station playing music…and she started dancing. When she first told me that story, I asked her, how could you do that? How could you dance under those circumstances? She smiled at me and said, “because Brooksie, when you hear music, you dance.” My grandmother only had a fourth grade education, and she is the wisest person I have ever met. She died last year at 99 years old, one of the last survivors of her generation and I miss her dearly. I still remember the sparkle in her eyes when she heard music, and up until she died, I played music for her and she would still tap her foot and smile.”
According to Dr. Dean Ornish, “A 2010 study found that people with positive emotions have more stable marriages, better interpersonal skills, and even increased life span than people with negative emotional patterns. And in 2011, researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, found that smiling can even make you appear more attractive to others. When men and women were asked to rate smiling and attractiveness, they found that they were more attracted to images of people who made eye contact and smiled than those who did not. Not very surprising, right? Check it out for yourself—make it a point to smile more today, and see what kind of reactions you get…” Stanford psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky researches the benefits of acts of kindness. She says, “There are a lot of positive social consequences to being kind—other people appreciate you, they’re grateful and they might reciprocate. But it’s not the altruism per se that’s important; it’s about cultivating meaningful relationships. Helping others can also provide you with a meaningful role that boosts your self-esteem and mood and helps you find purpose in life, which in turn can enhance your mental, emotional, and physical health. If you have time and energy left after helping friends and family, it’s also rewarding to do volunteer work in your community. Think of an organization or a cause that touches you. Who could benefit from your kind support, your helping hands? It’s a wonderfully symbiotic relationship, as serving and supporting others in need can measurably enhance your own health, happiness, and longevity.”
Wow, great stuff, and a reminder for all of us to smile every day, be kind, try to find the positives (which is a real challenge for me sometimes), and oh yes, perhaps most importantly, when you hear music, you dance! 🙂

Click here for a study titled “Optimism and its impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being.”
Click here for Dr. Brooke Goldner’s excellent book, “Goodbye Autoimmune Disease.”
Click here for Dr. Dean Ornish and Anne Ornish’s wonderful book, “Undo It!”

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