Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness - Seneca
We humans are herd animals! Since the beginning of time we have been living and growing in communities. Our brains are biologically wired to connect socially and to connect to personal pain. In fact, the pain we all feel from isolation, rejection and loss is real pain! (Lieberman, 2013). We thrive and prosper among other people and kindness and compassion are fundamental elements of any happy relationship.
Evidence illustrates how in fact we actually need social interactionmore than even food and shelter (Sato, Zenou, 2015). And we can create a better version of ourselves and our society, with the extraordinary power of kindness!
Modern science clearly shows that being kind has numerous benefits to ourselves, our family and friends, our communities, organisations and businesses. Here’s the hit list!
1. Your Best Doctor
Even small acts of kindness can trigger the release of Oxytocin. The so-called happiness or love hormone is responsible for reducing inflammation (Klein et al., 2018). But that’s not all! Due to the constant production of Oxytocin, compassion can reduce all sort of other health problems: diabetes (Altirriba et al., 2014), chronic pain (Goodin et al., 2015), obesity (Lawson, 2017) and cancer (Cuneo et al., 2019). That Buddhist mantra of ‘May All Beings Be Happy’ is SO SELFISH!!!
2. The Free Cardiologist
If you make kindness a way of living, your heart will be warmer, softer and healthier! According to Dr. David Hamilton, “Oxytocin releases chemicals in our blood vessels, which dilate them, in turn reducing blood pressure. Hence Oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone since it protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.” (Hamilton, 2011). Regular Oxytocin production protects your heart better than your cardiologist!
3. Reduce Stress & Anxiety
Kindness helps us fight two of the most fierce and vicious monsters in modern society: stress and anxiety. Engaging in acts of kindness is empirically proven to reduce anxiety (Alden & Trew, 2013) and mitigate the negative effects of stress in everyday life (Raposa et al., 2016). When everything seems to fall apart and you want to cry, smile instead!
4. Special K? The Kindness High
Kindness will get you high! Ever heard of the phenomenon “helper high”? Altruistic behaviour releases endorphins in the brain, increasing our own happiness as well as the people we help. In fact, advanced neuroscience of the brain shows that social interaction and cooperation are intrinsically rewarding (Krach et al., 2010).
5. Spread the Word around the World
Kindness is contagious! When we’re kind to others it operates like a virtuous circle of goodness that spirals outwards spreading the positivity (Ciocarlan et al., 2017). So if you want be surrounded by kind people, it’s time to trigger a global kindness epidemic!
6. Who Wants to Live Forever?
Perhaps the most astounding effect? Kindness helps us live longer! Science tells us that offering support to others literally reduces our mortality rates (Poulin, 2013). So who wants to live forever? Kind people, of course!
The Surplus Benefit (6.1)
Kindness Makes you Rich!
Certainly, kindness will make you rich in experiences, friends and memories. But I’m talking hard dollars too - and you don’t need to believe in Karma! Let’s say you’re a financial analyst applying for a new job or promotion. Who gets hired if the skills are the same? A positive, smiling, compassionate candidate or a grumpy one? Being kind to people around creates amazing relationships that will dramatically enhance your business and career. I’ve many experiences of this myself. In fact a Harvard University experiment demonstrated how collaboration, rather than competition, make you win faster and more often! (Harvard University, 2012)
Compassion and kindness can change our life and the society we live in, just one act of kindness at the time.