Did you know that there are benefits from being kind? Do you remember your last act of kindness? What was the last story you heard about someone else’s kindness?
There are countless moments throughout each day to intentionally do something kind for another person. And any kind words, actions, or behaviors extended to someone else brings intentionality and positivity. Have you noticed that when you do something nice for someone you feel good? Acts of kindness with pure intentions just feel right and generate a connection. Being kind makes us feel happier.
Biologically, where do these good feelings come from? We are happier after an act of kindness. This is because the pleasure and reward centers in our brains light up and we experience a release of endorphins, which gives us that ‘happy high,’ Kindness results in an increase of other neurotransmitters such as dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin in our brains. Dopamine helps us to see the reward and move to action. Oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, is known to help protect the heart because of it’s ability to lower blood pressure. It has also been discovered that oxytocin helps reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system, which subsequently slows down aging. Serotonin gives us that feeling of well-being and satisfaction.
Kindness is also known to be contagious and often sets off a chain reaction of kind behaviors. The person on the receiving end of a kind act generally wants to continue to extend kindness and pay it forward. The emotional warmth created by kindness is often replicated, whether it is due to a personal act of kindness (giver or receiver), or even witnessing kindness. The more we spread kindness the more automatic it can become and the more we train ourselves to be in that mindset.
Extending kindness applies to other areas as well. Our body releases the same hormones after we act kindly, even if the act is not acknowledged. This means we can be kind to the world around us and still feel good. Additionally, it is important to remember how essential it is to be kind to yourself too. Whether this means taking a nap when your body tells you it’s tired, or going for a walk to breathe in fresh air, or saying no to a request that you simply cannot add to your plate, being kind to yourself matters.
What is one thing you can do today to extend kindness to someone else? And to yourself?