Why Kindness Matters to Wellbeing
Updated: Nov 15, 2019
What is Kindness? ‘Behaviour marked by a warm and pleasing disposition and a genuine concern for others’. It is usually considered a virtue, though some unfairly associate it with weakness. In fact kindness requires a strength of character and a strong sense of oneself. Practising kindness daily can have significant benefits for wellbeing. Research shows that kind people enjoy increased energy, happiness and serotonin levels, plus lower levels of stress and anxiety.
Here are the top benefits of practising kindness in your daily life:
1. Kindness makes you happier A natural high floods our being when we do something nice for someone else. Even a thing as simple as holding the door open for a colleague can make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. Biochemically this is known as ‘Helper’s High,’ and it seems that the good feeling arises from elevated levels of dopamine in the brain.
2. Kindness is contagious By performing an act of kindness you benefit not just yourself, but you also affect the people around you. Studies show that people who witness an act of kindness experience an improved mood and are more likely to be kind to others. So every time you are kind to another person you are also paying it forward and passing on the kindness to the people around you.
3. Kindness helps you age betterTo be kind is often associated with warmth of character. Emotional warmth has beneficial effects on your heart and brain, as acts of kindness and emotional warmth produce the hormone oxytocin. Research from the American Journal of Physiology suggests that this hormone reduces levels of inflammation in the cardiovascular system and in turn slows ageing in the body.
4. Kindness has long-term effects The Journal of Happiness Studies finds that kindness has a long-term effect on happiness, as there is a ‘positive feedback loop’ between the two. In other words, acts of kindness increase happiness, which increases your likelihood of being kind. They will inspire someone else, who will inspire another, and so on. A little bit of kindness goes a long way.