In these days and times, treating people with compassion and goodwill is more important than ever. The adage that a little wholesale kindness can go a long way is very real. The best thing about it is that an act of kindness is like a ripple in a pond: there is the initial splash, then there are all the beautiful ripples that erupt from that one small act.
Did you know that kindness is a potent painkiller? Even witnessing a kind gesture can cause the body to produce oxytocin, which helps to decrease pain, stress and depression, lower blood pressure and increase heart health. People that are shy or anxious in social situations can also benefit by doing something nice for someone else, as it increases feelings of self-worth and self-assurance.
When you are kind, your whole body recognizes it. Your serotonin levels become elevated, which can boost immunity and heal wounds. Another positive benefit is that even clinical depression can see an improvement by focusing on others. Research has shown that the pleasure center of the brain increases in activity when we do good works for others, lifting our mood and doing as much good for the giver as it does for the recipient.
The increase in endorphins can cause feelings of happiness and increased energy levels. The “helper’s high” is similar to the feeling that gives runners that euphoric, energetic feeling. Some people find that the more energy they have, the more philanthropic work they are driven to do. If you are going to become addicted to a feeling, why not have it be for doing something good for others?
One of the miracles of kindness is that it is contagious. Have you ever received a random act of kindness and then felt so happy you wanted to do that for someone else? The whole idea of “pay it forward” is to repay someone’s kindness by doing something for someone else. It doesn’t have to be big to have a big impact, and the domino effect can be incredible.
Do good things for others. It is good for the recipient and good for you. Try paying for the car behind you at Starbuck’s one day, and you’ll find that just thinking of their pleasure will bring a smile to your face all day. Who knows, you might just add extra years to your life.