Spreading kindness not only makes others feel better about themselves, but it also improves the giver’s health and happiness. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
A ‘helper’s high’
Studies demonstrate that putting others’ needs ahead of our own without expecting anything in return, or being altruistic, stimulates the reward centres of the brain. These feel-good molecules flood our bodies, giving us a “helper’s high.”
Volunteering, for instance, has been proved to reduce stress and enhance mood. Not only that, but the same activity can help us live longer by lowering our chance of cognitive deterioration.
According to academics, one reason for this is that compassion helps to our sense of community and belonging. And studies have shown that this is a vital factor in living a healthier, longer life.
Reduce your blood pressure
Prosocial spending, or giving to others, has been found to lower blood pressure and promote heart health. A group of hypertensive persons was encouraged to spend $40 on themselves in one research, whereas another group of hypertensive people was told to spend the money on others.
At the end of the six-week trial, they discovered that people who spent money on others had lower blood pressure. In fact, the advantages were comparable to those gained from a good diet and regular exercise.
Giving appears to alleviate our suffering. People who indicated they would donate money to support orphans were shown to be less susceptible to an electric shock than those who stated they would not. Furthermore, the less pain people felt the more useful they imagined their donation would be.
What are the chances of this happening? The study discovered that the feeling of giving appears to deactivate parts of the brain that respond to painful stimulation.
Researchers in the United Kingdom discovered that being kind can enhance happiness in as little as three days. The participants were divided into three groups: the first had to perform an act of kindness every day, the second had to try a new activity, and the third had to do nothing.
The groups that were kind and did unusual things had much higher levels of happiness. If you’re innovative with your acts of kindness, you’ll get even more joy.
Researchers Sonja Lyubomirsky and Kennon Sheldon discovered that those who committed a variety of acts of kindness throughout the week experienced higher levels of enjoyment than those who repeated the same activity.
The good news is that it appears that acts of kindness can be anonymous or apparent, spontaneous or planned, and as easy as paying someone a praise or opening a door for them.
Okay, you’ve made up your mind and are ready to start being kinder and more helpful right away.
Make place for the car that wants to enter your lane while driving
Give a genuine complement to a relative, friend, or coworker (via text, email or video chat, please).
Do the same for your employer; chances are they don’t get many compliments.
Allow yourself to forgive someone and let rid of a grudge (unless telling them makes it worse).
Be there for a friend who is going through a difficult period. Don’t try to solve the problem; simply listen.
Send a thank-you note to your mail carrier.
Don’t forget to tip your delivery person.
“You’re making the world a better place.” But keep in mind that any act of kindness you perform for others is equally a gift to yourself.