I received a gift today…a gift of kindness. It wasn’t expected or asked for; it wasn’t on my wish list or under a tree. It was a kind word, a gentle spirit, a voice sharing her thoughts and validating mine. What an awesome gift.
As I sit to write this afternoon, I keep reflecting on this gift. You’ve all probably heard about ‘random acts of kindness’ ‘pay it forward’ and ‘pass it along’. These are just a few of the many discussions around kindness. I wanted to know what else was out there and how kindness impacts our health and overall well-being. Here is what is I found.
David R. Hamilton, Ph.D. shared his work on compassion and kindness in a recent article:
- Kindness makes us happier – Elevated levels of endorphins, dopamine creating a “helper’s high”. A study of more than 3,000 people found that 95% of people feel good when they help someone, 53% of people feel happier and more optimistic, and those feelings last hours or even days for 81% of people.
- Kindness slows aging – Kindness/generosity has been linked to release of oxytocin which reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system and thus slows aging at its source. It’s also good for heart!
- Kindness makes for better relationships -We are wired for kindness. Some even say there is such a thing as kindness genes within the human genome. We flourish when we are relational. We are connected through kindness. Current relationships strengthen and new relationships develop when are kind to one another.
- Kindness is contagious – Being kind, inspires others to be kind, creating a ripple effect. My favorite example of this combines my love for coffee and paying it forward. It brings me great joy to get my favorite drink through the drive thru and pay for the next person in line… so many follow suit; that is so cool!
I want to challenge you to focus on kindness this month. How can you make a difference in someone else’s life through kindness?
Remember, each act of kindness might seem small, but it’s actually changing the way we see ourselves, the way we see others, and the way others see us.