Doing good, does you good.
As social beings, humans rely on one another’s kindness for survival. Kindness and connection are “wired into our nervous system” and are not only a part of our emotional and social wellbeing, but also our physical wellbeing. Kindness causes us to be happier and improves our health.
Research has shown that acts of kindness increase oxytocin. Oxytocin in an important hormone for bonding. Not only is this important for that feel good “helper’s high” but also it lowers stress hormone, pain, blood pressure and helps with impulse control.
Giving to others also improves our sense of self-worth. It helps us see that we have something to offer. It also can help to take us out of our own stressors, by focusing our attention on helping others.
Kindness also can improve our energy levels. About 50% of people reported they felt stronger and more energetic after helping others.
Random acts of kindness increase dopamine and pleasure or reward centers in the brain. Serotonin a neurotransmitter that regulates mood increases when giving, receiving, or witnessing an act of kindness.
Kindness also boosts longevity. The health benefits of decreased stress hormone and inflammation, an increased sense of purpose and connection can help us live longer. People 55 and older who volunteered for 2 or more organizations had a 44% decreased risk of dying early. This is a greater effect than exercise!
So that means helping others leads to less pain, less stress, less depression, less anxiety, lower blood pressure and lower likelihood of dying early! Who wouldn’t want this type of medicine!
We can all do it. Kindness and compassion can be learned. Doing some “compassion weight training” can increase the strength. Consider a loving kindness meditation.
Kindness is also contagious. Because of its positive effects on mood, people who experience or witness kindness are more likely to be able to pass it on.
Are you ready? Help me start a random acts of kindness chain. Try starting with just 3 people. You can use the certificates if it makes it more tangible and fun if you want, or just allow it to be naturally contagious. Have fun!
Need some other ideas? Check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation