What kindness does to your brain
We’ve all probably observed how acts of kindness can spread and multiply.
During the pandemic, people were using the phrase ‘the kindness contagion’ to describe the wave of kindness that rapidly spread through the world in response to those difficult times.
And it’s true. Kindness is contagious.
Witnessing acts of kindness makes us more likely to do the same for others.
In fact, when we witness an act of kindness, our body and mind seem to interpret what we’re seeing as if we were actually experiencing it ourselves.
And these acts of kindness, whether direct or indirect, have some pretty significant benefits.
Being kind to others has some life-changing perks for us
Kindness has been shown to increase our self-esteem as well as improving empathy and compassion. It’s also been shown to improve mood and decrease the stress hormone cortisol – thereby reducing stress levels.
Kindness increases our sense of connection with others. And this tends to reduce loneliness and depression.
Physiologically, kindness can lead to very real changes in the brain and body.
Kindness lowers blood pressure and boosts serotonin and dopamine. These are the feel good hormones that give us feelings of contentment and well-being. Endorphins can also be released, which act as the body’s natural pain killer.
Studies have found that people who practice kindness regularly tend to be healthier and live longer. No doubt due to some of the above benefits.
Looking for ways to show kindness can give your life a sense of meaning, purpose, and connection.
And through kindness, we’re building better selves, and better communities at the same time.
Greek storyteller Aesop once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Try this fun (and heartwarming) kindness experiment…
So if you are interested in trying an experiment to bring this into your own life, I invite you to try a little challenge.
See if you can do one small, kind thing each day this week for someone. It could be something really simple like bringing a co-worker a cup of tea, paying for a stranger’s coffee, making a space for someone in traffic or a warm smile at someone who looks like they had a hard day.
Then, be attentive to the effect the kind act has on YOU.
Does it brighten your mood? Do you feel more connected to others? Does it give you a sense of meaning?
Try it first hand and see if you discover that boomerang effect of kindness – and how being kind to others is a kindness to ourselves.
As James Matthew Barrie once said “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”
Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash
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