Studies have shown that kindness makes us happier, gives us healthier hearts, slows aging, makes for better relationships, and is contagious!
Each one of us can make a stand
"Somebody ought to do something about that," Really? Did you know that each and every one of us is that ‘Somebody‘, and it’s about time we woke up to the many benefits of being a little kinder and more helpful to those around us?
Being kind gets you high!
Personal social responsibility is all about treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves. It is about recognising how our behaviour affects others, and holding ourselves accountable for our actions. We all know the contrast between someone who is well mannered and kind, with someone who is rude and selfish, but there is more to being kind that simply conforming to social etiquette: it’s actually good for us!
Kindness is a win/win/win situation. The person you are being kind to benefits through your help. You feel good for having helped someone. And the world is a better place through your kindness.
But why does being kind make us feel good?
Kindness makes us happier because when we do something kind for someone else, we feel good. On a spiritual level, many people feel that this is because it is the right thing to do and so we’re tapping into something deep and profound inside of us. On a biochemical level, it is believed that the good feeling we get is due to elevated levels of the brain’s natural versions of morphine and heroin, which we know as endogenous opioids. They cause elevated levels of dopamine in the brain and so we get a natural high, often referred to as ‘Helper’s High’.
Studies show that kindness gives us healthier hearts because acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone, oxytocin, in the brain and throughout the body. Of recent interest is its significant role in the cardiovascular system. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates (expands) the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure). The key is that acts of kindness can produce oxytocin and therefore kindness can be said to be cardioprotective.
Note: for maximum benefit, it is important to carry out your acts of kindness without expecting anything in return.
Acts of kindness ripple outwards
Kindness can also slow aging on a biochemical level, but two culprits that speed the process are Free Radicals and Inflammation, both of which result from making unhealthy lifestyle choices. But remarkable research now shows that oxytocin (that we produce through emotional warmth) reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system and so slows aging at source. Incidentally these two culprits also play a major role in heart disease so this is also another reason why kindness is good for the heart.
The act of kindness can better relationships, which is one of the most obvious points. We all know that we like people who show us kindness. This is because kindness reduces the emotional distance between two people and so we feel more bonded. It’s something that is so strong in us that it’s actually a genetic thing. We are wired for kindness.
And as we have all heard as kids, kindness is contagious. When we’re kind we inspire others to be kind and studies show that it actually creates a ripple effect that spreads outwards. So acts of kindness ripple outwards touching others’ lives and inspiring kindness everywhere the wave goes.
How to practice random acts of kindness
Random acts of kindness are a means by which we make a deliberate attempt to brighten another person's day by doing something thoughtful, nice, and caring. Kindness is a way of showing others that they count. Here are some suggestions for encouraging others with your random acts of kindness.