The science behind why being kind feels so good
Can being kind boost your health? According to a growing body of research, being nice can in fact have a positive impact on our overall health and well-being.
Here are 7 ways being kind to others is actually good for us.
It helps us foster closer relationships
Being kind gives us a chance to show someone that they mean something to us. It doesn’t matter if it’s your partner, an acquaintance or your UBER driver: no matter how shallow or deep your relationship, being kind deepens it further. And research shows that having strong relationships and a solid support system may be the key to happiness.
Additionally, research shows that being kind to others activates our posterior superior temporal cortex, the part of the brain associated with empathy. By exercising our “understanding” muscle, we are better able to see the world from other people’s perspective and listen to friends and family with kindness and compassion.
Being kind is a natural anxiety antidote
Kindness leads to longevity
We are happier when we are nicer
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. A day, go fishing. A year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
It reduces stress
The way we interact with others is directly related to our own emotional health. Being kind seems to buffer the negative effects stress has on us.
Witnessing or participating in acts of kindness produces oxytocin, the “love hormone.” Oxytocin lowers our blood pressure and improves our overall heart health. It also increases our self-esteem and optimism.
Additionally, being kind acts like a medical antidepressant in that it stimulates the production of serotonin, the feel-good chemical that calms us down.
In one Emory University study, researchers studied compassion meditation participants. They placed the participants in stressful situations in the lab, along with a control group of people who had not had the compassion meditation training. The researchers found that the students who were practicing compassion meditation released significantly lower doses of cortisol, the stress hormone.
We may be wired to be kind
Our good nature is something that’s ingrained in us from an early age. Studies show that some of us are born with certain genes that give us specific receptors to oxytocin and vasopressin, two hormones that promote feelings of love. Other studies show that nurture, or how our parents raised us, makes us naturally inclined to be kind.
Either way, it’s possible that being kind feels good because, from an early age, we’ve known that it’s the right thing to do.
Being kind leads to success
Is being kind the ultimate health hack?
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