kindness is good for you
Kindness is Good for You!
By Dr. Lillian Nejad
The research on the benefits of kindness is clear—being kind to others is as good for you as it is for the person on the receiving end. Contributing to others’ happiness actually leads to a boost in your own sense of well-being—physically, emotionally & in our relationships.
The Science of Kindness
The science of kindness comes from the Positive Psychology movement which began in 1998 headed by psychologist Martin Seligman. Positive psychology studies people who are functioning best, finding out the factors that account for their well-being and resilience. The outcome of this research has led to the discernment of a number of core skills and strategies that we can all use to improve our health and sense of well-being.
Random acts of kindness is one of these strategies along with being grateful, practicing mindfulness, and journaling.
How does it work to improve your health and wellbeing?
Being kind benefits your physical and mental health and improves your relationships by helping you feel more connected to others.
Here are a few ways kindness can enhance your life and the lives of those around you:
1.When you are kind to another person, the pleasure and reward centers of your brain are activated. Your body reacts by producing the feel-good hormones & neurotransmitters (oxytocin, serotonin & dopamine), which aid in lowering blood pressure which is good for your heart, increasing self-esteem and optimism, calming you down, and increasing your sense of connection to others.
2.Engaging in acts of kindness also produces endorphins— endorphins are hormone-like substances produced in the brain that have pain-relieving properties. So being kind actually leads to pain relief.
3.Consistently kind people have been shown to produce less cortisol (the stress hormone) and they also age more slowly than the average population.
4.Everyone who witnesses a kindness towards others benefits from the act. These benefits may lead to further kindnesses towards others. So kindness is essentially contagious! Imagine the positive effect this can have on our children!
5.The pleasure centers of our brains respond much more strongly to kindness when you get something unexpected according to research conducted by Dr. Gregory Berns, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Emory University, “If you get a present for your birthday, that’s nice. But you’ll like it a lot more if you get a present and it’s not your birthday.” This explains why kindness is very effective when it is random.
6.Studies have also shown that people who volunteer have less pain and live longer and those who are altruistic (via financial donations) report feeling happier.
How to Get Started
You don’t have to do a lot to reap the rewards of kindness. Small, unexpected acts of kindness is all that is needed to make someone’s day and at the same time achieve the physical, emotional and relationship benefits.
Start with these simple ideas:
- give a compliment
- write a nice text
- invite someone for a coffee or a walk
- donate a book
- comfort someone
- give up your place in line for someone
- offer to help someone with their schoolwork
- send someone flowers
- pay for the person behind you at a café or drive-thru
- help someone change a flat tire
- offer to help someone cook or clean
- take a gift to new neighbours and introduce yourself
- let people in front of you when driving
- pay for someone’s dinner
- give someone your extra shopping bags
- smile at the person serving you
For more ideas, it can help to think about what other people have done for you that has brightened up your day.
Make a commitment to be kind starting today!