Why kindness is the key to good health
If you had grown up in a fair and rational environment, it’s likely that moralistic values would have been imprinted on you from a young age. As we grow older kindness is often mistaken for ‘going the extra mile’ rather than a human necessity. Let me remind you why kindness is one of the most simple yet beneficial traits you can have.
You don’t need to have a certain number in the bank and donate generous amounts of money to be a good person. From smiling to a stranger to helping out with household chores, kindness is very much accessible and a worthwhile act in today’s society.
Society has evolved in good ways and in bad ways. While we’re all very lucky to have information with the touch of a button and friends just a click away, this advancement in technology may consume our attention whilst the most bizarre things can be happening around us.
At the lunch table, are you present or are you texting? When a friend is in need are you there face to face helping them in a practical sense, or is it a case of a Facebook message and nothing more?
It’s easily done. We can so easily get caught up in ourselves, in the future successes we would like to get a hold of, that we forget the necessity of kindness in a world that is very much screaming for it.
Kindness goes beyond just helping other people- it helps you too! Research shows the positive effects on our mental health when serving another human being, though that is something I’ll touch on later on in the article.
I’m sure you’re already very much aware of these little gestures of kindness. But, let me remind you again, just in case it’s slipped through the relevancy of todays stresses. Sometimes we need to bring ourselves back to the core of who we really are and the things that helped us get through life so far. And while I have no doubt these things are profoundly practised all over the world, I challenge you to consider the following while going about your day.
- Holding the door open for someone else
- Smiling at those who pass by. (They may not smile back. But you tried. You stretched out the offer of human connection and it isn’t always mutual. Nonetheless, you’ve done your part.)
- Clearing away a table after you’ve finished eating. – Sure, the waitress/waiter could do it for you. But isn’t it nice to serve those who serve you?
- Writing a note to a loved one. – I love this one. I love the creativity of it. Nowadays, while convenient, facebook messages can seem a little standard. By going this extra mile to physically handwrite sweet words to those important to you, your giving them the gift of thoughtfullness. And you know what they say- it’s the thought that counts!
- Donating change to those who need it.- I know I said earlier how kindness doesn’t have to involve money. And I still stand by that. But if, after your paying for your items and you receive 5p change. Maybe ask yourself; do I truly need this? And if it’s within your circumstances to do so, it can’t hurt to give to the those who are desperate for it.
- Make it clear that the seat next to you on the train is free to take. – Most people I know see it as an absolute nightmare to have to struggle through swarms of people to find a seat in what can seem to be an overwhelming train. Smile at those who seem hesitant on asking you if the seat is taken. Not everyone is confident to approach others in these kinds of social circumstances.
- Introduce yourself. – If you’ve ever had to socialise with a group of unfamiliar faces, chances are, it probably felt a little bit awkward, to begin with. And sometimes you may not know where you stand with others. It can be tricky to know if you’re welcomed or not and can really have an effect on your confidence. If your in the position to, I urge you to say ‘hello’ to someone within your group who maybe seems a little hesitant to make that first move.
- Make eye contact. – A lot of us have conversations daily, sometimes around serious topics and sometimes revolving around more light-hearted topics. There is something about maintaining eye contact that makes you feel truly special and valued in such a busy society. Having eye contact with someone, whether it be while conversing briefly with a stranger or talking to a well-known friend, is kind of like saying ‘I’m focusing on you and only you right now.’ If you ask me, that’s pretty worthwhile.
Science backs kindness too!
Kindness isn’t just another mushy fluffy topic. Not only does kindness benefit the giver and receiver, but it actually helps those who are only witnessing these acts of kindness. Randomactsofkindness.org provides an extensive list of how kindness and health are closely linked:
For example, it explains the increase in oxytocin for those who are witnessing the act. Oxytocin is often referred to as ‘the love hormone’ and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Randomactsofkindness.org goes on to explain how oxytocin can lower blood pressure and increase overall heart health. Not only this, but it’s also known to increase self-esteem which can be very handy in handling social situations.
Randomactsofkindness.org also comments on how kindness can increase our energy. It mentions a study whereby about half of the participants felt ‘stronger’ and ‘more energetic’ once they’ve helped others. In turn, many participants also claimed to feel calmer and less depressed whilst also having increased feelings of self-worth.
According to randomactsofkindness.org kindness also increases serotonin. Many antidepressants prevent the re-absorption of serotonin thus making us happier. Likewise, kindness also stimulates the production of serotonin which can heal your wounds, make you feel calmer and happier!
Kindness also applies to yourself, too!
Kindness doesn’t always have to centre around constantly pouring yourself out for other people. And if you do feel you’re doing this, perhaps that’s an indicator that you need to slow down and save some kindness for yourself too. Afterall- you can’t pour from an empty cup!
I hope that this has inspired you to realise that your acts of kindness, whether small or extravagant, truly does mean something to this hurting world. I shall now leave you with some quotes surrounding kindness, for the days when being kind doesn’t seem possible. You can take this as your companion and know that by wanting to do good, by even taking time to research upon kindness, you are already making extensive progress within yourself that will shine outwards as hope in amongst negativity.
- “No act of kindness is ever wasted.”
- “Kindness makes you the most beautiful person in the world no matter what you look like.”
- “If you want more kindness in the world- put it there.”
- “How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.”