Many of us have heard the expression “it is better to give than receive”, but did you know this is backed by research? People who are kind and compassionate see clear benefits in their wellbeing and happiness. Studies have shown people even live longer. Kindness can also help reduce stress and improve our emotional wellbeing.
➔ STRESS Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population!
➔ ANXIETY A group of highly anxious individuals performed at least six acts of kindness a week. After one month, there was a significant increase in positive moods, relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance in social avoidance in socially anxious individuals.
➔ DEPRESSION Stephen Post, PhD found that when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced and well-being and good fortune are increased.
➔ BLOOD PRESSURE Committing acts of kindness lowers blood pressure. According to Dr. David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and is a “cardioprotective” hormone.
➔ LIFESPAN “People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.” Christine Carter, Author.
➔ PLEASURE According to research from Emory University, when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed—not the giver. Known as the “helper’s high.”
➔ SEROTONIN Like most medical antidepressants, kindness stimulates the production of serotonin. This feel-good chemical heals your wounds, calms you down, and makes you happy!
➔ THE LOVE HORMONE Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, occasionally referred to as the ‘love hormone’ which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. Oxytocin also reduces inflammation. Inflammation is linked to all kinds of diseases in the body, including diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, obesity, and migraines. Even a little kindness boosts our body’s natural oxytocin levels. So don’t wait for someone else to show kindness to you; you can boost your own oxytocin by being kind to others.
Kindness is what we all need, and may be the secret sauce to a healthy, happy life. But don’t just take my word for it. Share a smile, make a donation, volunteer, or help others—then let me know how you feel!