I must tell you that being kind is not only an ethical behavior, but also the best way to stay healthy and happy since there are a lot of reasons why being kind is good for your health. In UK there is also a Kindness Day which is celebrated on the 13th of November; a special occasion dedicated to encouraging people to be nicer to each other. This very simple behavior has numerous health benefits ranging from a good emotional health right down to more physical aspects, like your cardiovascular and nervous systems. In 1979, psychologists first came up with the term “helpers’ high” after a famous survey discovered that charity volunteers felt happier and more relaxed. So, here are a few very good reasons why being kind is good for your health, reasons you should consider if your goal is to live a happy and fulfilled life:
1. Good Emotional Health
In my opinion, one of the most convincing reasons why being kind is good for your health is the fact that by engaging yourself in kind acts you will manage to have a good emotional health. A lot of research shows that kindness makes us feel happier because your brain produces dopamine, a chemical which is associated with positive thinking. Also, every time you do a good deed, you will feel good on a chemical level, since your body will produce endorphins, those happiness-inducing endogenous opioids.
2. Good Cardiovascular Health
Another wonderful thing about being kind is the fact that this positive behavior will help you have a better cardiovascular health. Every time you do a simple act of kindness, your body produces Oxytocin, known as the bonding hormone. This causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide which dilates the blood vessels, thus it reduces your blood pressure, so you could say that Oxytocin is also a cardio-protective hormone. It’s pretty amazing, right?
3. Kindness Breeds Longevity
There are a lot of scientific studies that have shown the fact that people who are kind, altruistic and compassionate live healthier and longer lives, enjoying a better overall health. Stephen Post, the president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, which conducted a lot of studies on altruism, compassion and service, concluded from his research that ” when we give of ourselves, especially if we start young, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced and well-being and good fortune are increased.”
4. It Can Reduce Mild Pain
Every time you do a simple act of kindness, your brain repays you with a rush of endorphin-fueled euphoria, usually followed by a period of long-lasting serenity and among the benefits of these chemicals is also the fact that they are involved in reducing pain, especially chronic pain. So, try to introduce some kindness into your daily routine in order to improve your health and ensure your happiness!
5. It Reduces Your Anxiety
Another amazing benefit of being kind and compassionate is the fact that it can even reduce your anxiety, helping you to become a happier person. There is a lot of research which shows that doing altruistic things can make socially-anxious people feel better. For example in one study conducted by the University of British Columbia, researchers assigned people with high levels of anxiety to do simple acts of kindness (like holding the door open for other people, buying lunch for someone or even donate to charity) at least six times a week, for a period of four weeks. The results of this study showed that “doing nice things for people led to a significant increase in people's positive moods. It also led to an increase in relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance in socially anxious individuals.”
6. Natural High
Doing good deeds will give you a natural high, very similar to a runners’ high and this fact is actually backed up by a lot of studies. For example, a 2005 study from Hebrew University in Israel found a link between kindness and a gene that releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that will ensure you to have a good mood. Also, Alan Luks mentioned in his book, The Healing Power of Doing Good, which was published in 1991, that “helpers reported a distinct physical sensation when being kind. Many reported feeling more energetic, warm, calmer and greater self-worth”.
7. Kindness Helps Everyone
Apparently, kindness helps everyone; the giver, the receiver and the people who witness kind acts. Studies show that being involved in different acts of kindness, even passively, will increase the levels of serotonin in your brain, this neurotransmitter being responsible for offering you a good mood. Everyone will benefit from the positive emotions associated with a kind behavior that will reverse feelings of depression, hostility or anxiety.
It’s so easy to be kind. It doesn’t even require so much effort on your behalf, and it has a lot of wonderful benefits, so why not do it more often? Do you know any other reasons why being kind is good for your health? Do tell!