It feels good when someone’s nice to you, doesn’t it? Especially when their kind gesture is completely unexpected. We don’t need a scientist to help us figure that out.
However, it has taken many scientists to figure out why acts of kindness make us feel that way.
Both being kind and receiving acts of kindness initiates a surge of neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin) in our brain that gives us feelings of satisfaction and well-being.
This activates the pleasure and reward centers of our brain and releases endorphins, which are our body’s natural painkillers.
Oh, but wait… there’s more good news. This feel-good feeling doesn’t just happen when we give or receive kind acts. We also experience the same surge of reward when we observe kindness.
And the good feelings that are released when you give, receive, or witness acts of kindness have more than short-term benefits. They can have a lasting effect on one’s total health and well-being.
When you are involved in any act of kindness, it lowers your cortisol. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone that is produced in your body.
Lowering your cortisol levels will help protect you from many different things, like heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, as both of these diseases are linked to excess stress.
Ok sister, so knowing what you know now about the overall physical, mental, and emotional benefits of being kind, let’s talk about some ideas to help foster authentic kindness in your day-to-day living.
Start by being kind to yourself
We treat other people better when we take good care of ourselves. We run such a fast-paced, pressure-fueled race every single day, so it’s easy to come up with excuses for not taking a lunch break, soaking in the tub, going for that walk, etc.
Stawwwwwp it. Be kind to yourself first.
Let compassion be your guide
Be sensitive to what others might be dealing with. We all deal with life struggles and challenges, and most of the time, it is not obvious when people are hurting. We humans, are freakin’ good at hiding or pretending, aren’t we?
When someone shows a behavior that is unpleasant, uncharacteristic, or offensive, there is usually a reason for it. That doesn’t justify their behavior, but it could definitely explain it.
Our world would be a happier place if we responded first with compassion. Showing compassion to others (whether we feel they “deserve” it or not) recognizes the fact that we all share a human condition of imperfection.
Compassion will always lead to acts of kindness… and in the end, you’ll both be better because of it.
Serve others with your kindness, not yourself
When we are kind, just for the sake of being kind, the rewards for everyone involved are so much sweeter. The purest form of kindness has no audience and expects nothing in return.
The more we practice, the better we will become
Aesop, an ancient Greek philosopher, once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Those are good words right there.
If demonstrating acts of kindness doesn’t come easy for you, it’s ok. The fact that you have a desire to give them is huge. Start by just doing one small, kind thing for someone every day.
Then observe the impact it has on you and the world around you over time. I guarantee it will change everything.
Being kind requires some strength, courage, and humility because it involves a willingness to celebrate and focus on someone besides yourself. We are naturally selfish human beings. We just are.
And acts of kindness aren’t just limited to the things we do for others. They can also be the words we speak and the tone in which we speak them, giving honest feedback that is helpful, and taking the time to just listen.
Genuine kindness has the potential to make the world a happier place by boosting feelings of confidence, optimism, hope, etc.
Kindness is so contagious… so let’s start spreading that stuff everywhere.
What is one way someone recently showed kindness to you? How did it make you feel?
Head over to our Facebook page and tell us all about it in the comments of today’s post. We could all use some good news about mankind.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog post where I will share ten practical ways you and your family can begin showing kindness every day.