Kindness doesn’t just make the world a better place.
It actually makes it a healthier place too.
Research shows that those who practice kindness are happier, have healthier hearts, better mental health and even live longer.
According to Psychology Today, giving to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease.
Kindness is really good for your heart which is interesting since kindness is an act of love.
According to RandomActsofKindness.org, even witnessing an act of kindness is good for you.
It produces “oxytocin,” also known as the “love hormone.”
Oxytocin aids in lowering blood pressure and improves our overall heart health.
Committing acts of kindness can also lower your blood pressure, according to Dr. David R. Hamilton.
This is also due to the production of oxytocin that releases a chemical called nitric oxide which dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.
The production of oxytocin also helps with your mental health and can boost self-esteem and optimism.
Kindness also stimulates serotonin production. This is a “feel-good” chemical.
Not only does it make you feel happy but it also helps to calm you.
This reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
Those who are perpetually kind have 23 percent less cortisol, which is the stress hormone, and age slower than others who aren’t.
A study found that those who performed six acts of kindness per week had an increase in positive moods.
They also reported an increase in relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance in socially anxious individuals after just one month.
Engaging in acts of kindness can also reduce pain since it produces endorphins.
People who are kind get a “helper’s high” which lights up pleasure centers in the brain.
“About half of participants in one study reported that they feel stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth,” Dr. Christine Carter of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center wrote.
And those who are altruistic and able to give financially were found to be the happiest overall in a 2010 Harvard Business School survey of 136 countries.
Humans are biologically wired to be kind.
However, the stress of day-to-day lives can change that and make us irritable or only able to focus on our own needs instead of those of others.
And that type of thinking is seeping into the minds of our children.
A 2014 Harvard study, referenced in The Atlantic, found that kids were three times as likely to agree with the following statement:”My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my class than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”
The good news is that kindness can be taught. And it’s contagious!
“It’s kind of like weight training, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help,” said Dr. Ritchie Davidson of the University of Wisconsin.
You can find information on how to foster kindness and empathy in adults and children here. Learn more about the science of kindness in the video below.
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