We all know we should be kind to others – our families, co-workers, neighbours, strangers. Everyone benefits. It turns out though, that the one who benefits the most is probably you.
Spanish-born cellist and conductor Pablo Casals once said
I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.
Indeed, kindness has a big impact on the lives of others, and it makes us feel good. But you may not know how much being kind benefits your mental and physical health.
Kindness benefits your brain
To start with, kindness makes our brains happier. A study done by University of California required people to do five random acts of kindness per day for six weeks. At the end of the study, it was found that the happiness levels of the participants increased by 41.66%.
Consider these researched benefits of kindness as well:
- Contributes to the maintenance of good health.
- Diminishes the effect of physical and psychological illness.
- Releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkiller.
- Improves emotional well-being.
- Changes brain chemistry.
- Elevated levels of dopamine.
- Produces oxytocin which protects your heart and reduces inflammation.
- Slows down the aging process.
- Improves relationships.
- And best of all, kindness is contagious.
How can you share kindness?
When we look at kindness through the lens of neuroplasticity, we are reminded that brains get good at what they do.
The more we are kind, the easier it is to produce that behaviour in the future. So here are a few suggestions to try out:
- Smile more. It makes a strong impression of kindness.
- Compliment others more, and really mean it.
- Look for small opportunities. A few words may seem insignificant. They’re not. Little things take you far in life.
- When you get up in the morning, pick one person to focus on. Make it a different person as often as possible.
- And be kind to yourself. It’s hard to help others unless you are kind to you.
So be kind, and your brain and body will thank you.
Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. -Desmond Tutu
This article is also available in Chinese.
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