Why it's always the season for kindness
People naturally feel good when they give, help or serve others because they experience something called “helper’s high”; a feeling of exhilaration and burst of energy, similar to the endorphin-based euphoria experienced after intense exercise, followed by a period of calmness and serenity.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that acts of kindness have a positive effect on the immune system and increases production of serotonin in the brain, for both the recipient of kindness as well as the person extending the kindness. Serotonin is a naturally occurring neurochemical that has a calming, mood regulating, and anti-anxiety effect, which most anti-depressant drugs chemically stimulate the production of, with the aim to alleviate depression.
What’s even more amazing is that recent research has also found that people who observe an act of kindness also experience a similar strengthening of the immune system, and increased production of serotonin!
The benefits of kindness don’t just stop there.
Research has shown that those who routinely engage in acts of kindness, such as volunteers, experience alleviation of stress, chronic pain, and even insomnia. In some people, these effects are stronger than exercising four times a week or going to church!
Considering the abundance of proof that acts of kindness:
- – increase one’s sense of self-worth
- – enhance feelings of joyfulness
- – boost one’s sense of physical and emotional wellbeing
- – increase sense of happiness and optimism
- – decrease feelings of depression
- – diminish the effect of diseases and disorders
…the best thing we can do is find opportunities to extend kindness, and teach others to do the same. How very different the world would be!
Here are a few suggestions on how to extend the act of kindness to others:
- 1. Smile at strangers… especially those who are having a bad day
- 2. Volunteer your time to do charity work or help wherever there’s need
- 3. Cover someone’s lunch bill
- 4. Give compliments often
- 5. Give up your place in line to another person
- 6. Donate blood
- 7. Write a thank-you note, especially to someone who’s not expecting thanks
- 8. Give your seat up for someone else on a crowded train or bus
- 9. Pick up 5 pieces of rubbish next time you’re out on a walk
- 10. Invite a lonely friend, neighbour or family member over for dinner
And always keep your eyes peeled to observe another person’s random act of kindness, to spur on more acts of good in yourself.
Kindness is as contagious as laughter!