“Ever hear of golden gossip? I read of it some years ago. A woman who was always talking about her friends and neighbors made it her business to talk of them, in fact, never said anything but “good” of them. She was a gossip, but it was “golden gossip.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Regular gossip, the kind that ruins someone’s reputation or spreads some kind of private information is damaging for both the gossiper and the gossipee. But it isn’t the act of talking about someone else that is causing the damage; it is the nature of what you are saying about them. Unkind words are truly harmful. Kindness, on the other hand, is more than just helpful. It is nourishing for others and it is very good for your own heart.
Side bar: Kindness Gives us Healthier Hearts Acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone, oxytocin, in the brain and throughout the body. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure). David R. Hamilton, PhD
You can find good news to gossip about just about anywhere: in the daily doings of your family and friends, in the good works of celebrities and public servants, and in news stories about ordinary people reaching out to other ordinary people in extraordinary ways.
Just this week, tucked in among news stories of terrorism, and political sabotage, and other examples of man’s inhumanity to man, I read about some really cool people.
There was the policeman, for example, who spent several hours on a dark, country road with an African American teenager whose car had broken down, until a legitimate tow truck arrived to take him and his car back to town.
Then there was the little 9 year old girl who is building small wooden houses for homeless people. She carefully explained the need to put insulation in the walls to keep the occupants warm and layers of tar paper on the roof to keep them dry.
I was touched by a bus driver who saw a young girl standing outside the rail of a bridge and stopped his bus to go talk her out of jumping; telling her that nothing in life is so bad that it can’t be fixed.
One way to retrain your brain to look for “golden gossip” is to begin making a list of things that are really, really good about the people who are meaningful in your life. Start with a small notebook that is easy to carry around. Make a page for each person who is significant to you. Then, as each of them does something kind or has a positive experience, make a note of it.
For instance, your spouse may be really good at helping your children with their home work; eager to help with difficult science projects especially.
Your co-worker is very generous about offering transportation to you and others with whom he works; never bothered by having to go out of his way to drive someone home who is having car trouble, or even on errands.
Your teenage son is working with his classmates on a program to clean up some not very nice neighborhoods in your city. Every weekend they pick up trash, paint over graffiti, and repair broken playground equipment in a less affluent part of town.
Your brother puts on a tee shirt that says “I give hugs” on the front and “because everyone needs one now and then” on the back, and then goes wherever there is a crowd, spreading his own brand of cheer.
The next step, of course, in becoming a Golden Gossip, is to begin sharing these and other “good news” stories with others to remind them that there are more, in fact many more, good and kind people on our planet than unkind.
Kindness begets kindness. Golden gossip does too. Tell your friend about something good that happened to you and he will tell someone else about it as well and as your story telling skills improve, your personal brand of golden gossip will begin to ripple out, far and wide.
So how about it? Are you ready to become a “Golden Gossip?” Isn’t it the least you can, if only for your own benefit, to enjoy a happier, healthier life by simply spreading all the “good news” you can find?
By the way, did you hear about the fire fighter who attended a local girl’s high school graduation fifteen years after saving her life? Neither one had forgotten the other in all the years since she was two and he became her first real life hero.
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