There are numerous medical articles written on the positive side effects being kind has on our bodies. Usually when we think of side effects, we think of the side effects of drugs, which usually are never very good. But, did you know that kindness has side effects, too? Well, it does, and good ones at that.
1) We are happier.
An act of kindness, expressed towards someone else, feels good and lifts our spirits. According to medical research on the subject, it is believed that the good feeling we get when we do a good deed is due to elevated levels of the brain's natural versions of opiates, which we know as endogenous opioids. This causes elevated levels of dopamine in the brain, so we get a natural high, also known as "Helper's High."
2) We are healthier.
Medical research goes on to say that acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone oxytocin in the brain and throughout the body. There’s been recent interest in the positive role oxytocin has on the cardiovascular system.
3) We are vibrant.
According to experts, aging is a combination of many things. However, two main culprits are free radicals and inflammation. New and remarkable research now shows that oxytocin (emotional warmth) reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system and thus slows down the aging process.
4) We enjoy better relationships.
Kindness connects and reduces the emotional distance between two people. We feel more "bonded," and needed. It is widely believed that this is something that is so strong in us that it's actually a genetic thing. We are wired for kindness and wired to share as far back as our ancestors who had to learn to cooperate with one another.
5) We are contagious.
When we're kind, we inspire others to be kind. It creates a ripple effect that spreads outwards. Just as a pebble creates waves when it is dropped in water, so acts of kindness ripple forward, touching and inspiring kindness everywhere it goes.
These are just a few tangible positive side effects of being kind. Now, what are some simple kindness ideas that can be expressed in daily life?
1. Pay for the person behind you at the drive thru. Stay anonymous but relay a friendly message to the person like “Please pay it forward”.
2. Praise someone at work or in a store for a job well done when the occasion arises. Seek out the person’s supervisor and let them know this person has done a good job.
3. Tutor a younger person in reading. Be a literacy volunteer at a local school or get involved with a literacy organization.
4. Send someone you know who is going through a difficult time a card, flowers, cookies. Let them know that you care and are thinking of him or her.
5. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Help serve a meal or volunteer with an organization that you feel passionate about.
6. Organize a clothing or food drive with your neighbors for a local shelter or to send overseas to our active military personnel. Take the initiative to collect and distribute items to the shelter or mail items to the USO or other military support organizations.
7. Offer assistance to an elderly person. Help them across the street, open a door, shovel a sidewalk, or offer to run errands. There are so many ways we can help our elders.
8. Say thanks to a teacher or someone who has made a difference in your life. Write a letter or stop by in person, share with them how their kindness, support or a gesture has affected you and how grateful you are to have known them.
9. Drop off baked goods for a sports team at a local school, a firehouse or police station.
10. Thank a service person such as your postman, military, a police officer or fireman for their hard work and dedication to serving others.
There are so many ways to show kindness. “Be the reason someone smiles today.”