This groundbreaking and life-changing work based on the latest research effectively demonstrates “the profound impact that love, connection, and kindness have on our health” (Mark Williamson, PhD, director of Action for Happiness).
When Columbia University doctor Kelli Harding began her clinical practice, she never intended to explore the invisible factors behind our health. But then there were the rabbits. In 1978, a seemingly straightforward 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 who pet and spoke to the lab rabbits as she fed them—made the difference between a heart attack and a healthy heart.
As Dr. Kelli Harding reveals in this eye-opening book, the rabbits were just the beginning of a much larger story. Groundbreaking new research shows that love, friendship, community, and our environment can have a greater impact on our health than anything that happens in the doctor’s office. For instance, chronic loneliness can be as unhealthy as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day; napping regularly can decrease one’s risk of heart disease; and people with purpose are less likely to get sick.
At once paradigm-shifting and empowering, The Rabbit Effect illuminates vital public health research showing kindness in our day-to-day lives can make the “world a healthier, happier place. I recommend this book highly for anyone who wants to live more healthfully” (Christy Turlington Burns, and CEO of Every Mother Counts).
Harding, an emergency room physician and Columbia psychiatry professor, delivers an inspiring guide that will appeal to health enthusiasts fed up with the usual "10-step fitness plan or... two-week diet." Seeking to move past a predominant "biomedical" approach to health care, Harding found her key in a 1978 laboratory study on heart health in which rabbits were fed a high-fat diet. It returned an unexpected result: vastly improved outcomes for one test group under an unusually kind, attentive researcher's care. Harding thus examines various, seemingly nonmedical "hidden factors" for human health, such as nurturing childhoods, relationships, communities, and workplace cultures. To illustrate how they work, Harding employs dramatic and memorable stories, including of a small, close-knit Pennsylvania town, once famed for its low heart attack rate, whose health edge disappeared along with American social cohesion. She also includes accompanying "Tool Kit" suggestions, such as to "express your love for family... in a way that feels comfortable to you," "cut down on activities that distract you from paying full attention," and "lock eyes more with those you love" even "for longer than feels comfortable." Harding's book will leave readers with much to ponder and, if not a surefire solution for better health, an encouraging rationale for treating others more kindly.