A simple act of kindness can change someone’s entire day and can even change their life. Kindness is what this world needs the most and it is one of the most important virtues, because it can help in making relations good and strong, and can help make the world a better place. Being kind is not only the right thing to do, but studies have shown that practicing kindness also significantly affects your own well-being, and below is a list of these benefits explained in a bit more detail.
1. Kindness makes you happier
Being kind to others can actually make you genuinely happy. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that people are happier when they spend money on others versus on themselves.
Researchers at Emory University found that when you perform act of kindness to another person, the brain’s reward and pleasure centers light up as if you were the recipient of the good deed — not the giver. This phenomenon is called the “helper’s high.”
2. Kindness reduces stress
Performing acts of kindness can help decrease levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which takes away the state of stress. A study in the journal Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science found that people who were kind had 23% lower cortisol levels than the average person.
When you are thinking about helping others you’re simply not thinking as much about your problems which may reduce the effects of stress.
3. Kindness can help ease anxiety
Anxiety can have a large and negative affect on our social and professional lives, and overall happiness. In a study published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, Lynn Alden and Jennifer Trew found that performing acts of kindness can help people with social anxiety interact with others more easily by easing anxiety and fears of rejection or disapproval.
4. Kindness is good for the heart
A kind heart is a healthy heart. Acts of kindness have been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve heart health. According to Dr. David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Often referred to as “the love hormone,” oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates (expands) the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure because dilation of the blood vessel makes it is easier for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. That’s why oxytocin is sometimes known as the cardioprotective hormone. It protects the heart by helping reduce blood pressure.
Protect your heart and make a difference in the lives of the people around you by committing to small acts of kindness each and every day.
5. Kindness reduces pain
That’s because acts of kindness release endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. Endorphins help relieve pain and create a general feeling of well-being. They work by binding to the receptors in the nervous system and inhibit or slow the release of proteins involved in pain signaling.
6. Kindness reduces depression
Depression causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy. Being kind can boost serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain, which are known as the “feel-good hormones.” Most antidepressants work by making serotonin more available to the brain. All of this means that doing nice things for other people makes you feel better.
7. Being kind can help you live longer
Dr. Kelli Harding of Columbia University found in her research that kindness can impact person’s health in ways much greater than any treatment they might receive from their physician. “[Being kind] helps the immune system, blood pressure, it helps people to live longer and better,” Dr Harding told the BBC. “It’s pretty amazing because there’s an ample supply and you can’t overdose on it.”
Researchers at Purdue University found that people ages 70-85 who regularly volunteered are healthier than those ages 58-69 who infrequently volunteer. The research used C-reactive protein levels, a marker of inflammation. The C-reactive protein (CRP) increases with age, and higher amounts are indicative of health problems such as cardiovascular. The researchers in this study found that CRP was about 15 % lower in those who volunteered several times per year than for those who did not volunteer during the past year.
8. Kindness boosts energy
Showing kindness to others makes you feel better about yourself and more energetic and upbeat throughout your own day. According to Dr. Christine Carter, from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center “About half of participants in one study report that they feel stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth.”
9. Kindness improves relationships
A relationship that includes compassion and small daily acts of kindness has a great shot at weathering all the storms that life brings. Based on the research of Psychologist Dr. John Gottman and others, “Kindness… glues couples together. Research… has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—loved.”
Doing something nice for your partner, such as making their morning coffee, can shift the entire dynamic of your day to be more loving and romantic.
Simple ways to be kind
- Give someone a genuine compliment.
- Help a child or an elderly person cross the street.
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
- Make a meal for a friend or a neighbor going through a difficult time.
- Give up your seat on the train or bus to an elderly person, a pregnant woman or someone who looks tired.
- Hold open the doors for people.
- Smile genuinely at 10 strangers throughout your day.
- Donate unused clothing to a charity or to a homeless shelter.
- Visit a friend who has been ill.
- Listen carefully to what someone is passionate about.
- Buy a drink or some food for a homeless person.
- Let someone through in traffic who looks like they are in a rush.