Kindness can have a big influence both on your psychological and physical health.
You have probably read this quote from Mother Teresa somewhere, ‘’Not all of us can do great things on this planet, but we can all do small things with great love’’.
Simple gestures of kindness happen in all our lives. For instance:
- Letting someone pass in front of you in a big traffic line.
- Stopping to talk to your elderly neighbor, although you are in a hurry.
- Offering help to a colleague that is stuck with a project, even if that means leaving your office late.
- Giving a gift card for a lunch out to a couple who are facing tough times.
Kindness means a compassionate behavioral reaction and selfless actions; or a mentality that puts empathy for others before one’s own needs. An individual might undercut his or her own selfish needs while performing the selfless act.
People often ignore kindness as a value. But what is the reason for that? Sometimes, the reason for that is the perception of kind people; they might be seen as ‘’enablers’’, or even worse, as ‘’suckers’’ by the pessimists. Therefore, in the second case, a person is a ‘’sucker’’ if one acts in a kind way toward others. That represents a system that believes we can achieve success by only avoiding and stepping on others. Yet, the actions of the cynic never really result in real happiness; that feeling of being loved, that your purpose is achieved and your destiny fulfilled.
With that being said, kindness is inseparably related to joy and satisfaction – on both mental and spiritual levels. Over ten years ago, in a Japanese student’s study, researcher Otake and his colleagues discovered that people who were happy, were kinder than those who were unhappy. Their research also showed that the feeling of happiness increases through the small act of counting the amount of kindness acts. That influenced happy people to become more thankful and kind.
Why do spontaneous kindness acts make a person feel happier?
Because kindness encourages appreciation and gratitude. You are compassionate to those in need; having that understanding enhances your own sense of good luck. Kindness enables empathy, which then contributes to a sense of connection with others. Kindness may bring back the desire to live in depressed people that feel lonely and different; this is why volunteer work is so important. When you feel close to others, you reduce isolation and you strengthen the feeling that our experiences are more similar than dissimilar. Connection keeps us together instead of separating us. Kindness can strengthen the feeling of belonging and community.
Barbara Fredrickson, a researcher, shared her point of view – that kindness, especially loving-kindness, has the ability to pull one out of the selfish, egotistical zone. Explained differently, it had taken a person off the hedonic adaption. Being compassionate and kind can also alleviate tension, improver our immune systems, and lead to reducing negative emotions such as depression, frustration and anxiety.
When we perform simple kindness acts,
- It promotes positivity and makes us feel happier while making the receiver of our acts make feel better too. On the other hand, it also increases the chance of them being kind to others.
- As Allan Luks and Peggy Payne explain the empowering force of doing good, it can activate neurochemicals that result in a feeling of well-being – the “helper’s high.” In fact, the neuronal circuits included in the chemical “highs” are the same as those stimulated by goodness and compassion.
- It can relieve pain. Compassion acts produce serotonin, endogenous opioids, and dopamine.
- It stimulates the secretion of oxytocin in interactions, where two or more individuals participate in acts of kindness. In addition, it reinforces the bonds of those who are good to each other.
- It improves both physical and emotional health. Stress either causes or worsens most physical illnesses. Kindness lowers stress.
Kindness is a way of giving; wanting to ease other people’s weight or give them a helping hand or a shoulder for crying. It makes us human; it enhances us spiritually and it is something beneficial for us.
Surprisingly, the mere observing of someone being compassionate will release the same chemicals that produce the ‘’feel good’’ when engaged in a kindness act. However, by being the performer of gestures of kindness, one can gain a greater benefit. You will notice the benefits almost instantly. Only one act of little kindness can unleash a massive chain of positive outcomes. Kindness is contagious and that is what makes it a miracle; something that we all need to pass on and share to many others.