What’s the one thing you can do to feel better instantly?
It’s not more sleep. Or eat more vegetables. Or even go to yoga.
It’s a simple act of kindness.
Here’s how kindness helps you mentally and physically.
Kindness is beneficial for the receiver, of course. Whether it’s a gift or words of support and encouragement, it will boost the day and the attitude of the person on the other end.
But here’s a surprise: The benefits to the person committing the act of kindness can outweigh the benefits to the receiver.
Research has shown that kindness, especially in the form of giving time, is related to myriad physical and emotional benefits, including:
- Lower levels of stress hormones
- A calmer flight-or-fight response
- Less depression and loneliness
- A happier outlook
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Physical strength
And a soon-to-be-published study that found kind people are considered to be better looking.
And as if that’s not enough, being kind is free. In fact, one study showed that giving money doesn’t work as well:
“Prosocial traits were measured by how caring and friendly/warm the participants were in a typical week. Time-giving behaviors (i.e., caregiving, volunteering, giving support) and prosocial traits were associated with lower mortality risk in older adults, but giving money was not.”
Kindness fosters a connection to others. It helps provide purpose and meaning to our lives, allowing us to put our values into practice. And it diminishes our negative thoughts.
“The key to our success is not the survival of the fittest; it’s survival of the friendliest.”
-Dr. Jamil Zaki, a neuroscientist and associate psychology professor at Stanford, author of “The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World.”
Kindness is a habit worth cultivating. It’s not just random acts; it’s a lifestyle.
Where to start?
Start with you. You can’t be kind to everyone else when you’re not kind to yourself.