This month our ALV theme is Kindness. It’s a theme that really excites me because it’s one that I’m very passionate about. Personally, I have a lot of room to grow when it comes to kindness… but when I have demonstrated kindness in my life, I have found that the impact has been just as beneficial – if not more – for me as the giver as it was for the receiver.
Kindness is in our nature, but sometimes in the busyness and craziness of everyday life, it is forced to take a back seat as we struggle to find time to eat lunch let alone check-in on a friend or buy flowers for our spouse on the way home. Beyond just being an admirable character strength, kindness is incredibly good for our well-being, and if we can go out of our way to find an organic cafe or make time to go to the gym, then I’m sure we can find time to be kind. And let’s be honest… it really doesn’t take much! Compliment a stranger, smile at the bus driver, carry an elderly lady’s groceries across the road. Kindness comes in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes the biggest impact can come from the smallest gestures.
How do you demonstrate kindness in your everyday life? Truly think about it. Just like brushing our teeth or driving a car, kindness becomes a habit that we can nurture and develop. And as you do, you might start to notice these five things happen:
- You feel happier Kindness stimulates the production of serotonin in our brains (the same chemical targeted by anti-depressants) and helps us calm down and feel happy. The best part is that this is true for the giver, the receiver and everyone who witnesses it. Beyond serotonin, kindness also releases endorphins which is the same chemical released when we eat a delicious block of chocolate. So next time you’re reaching for a snickers, do something kind instead 😉
- You feel healthier Kindness also releases the hormone oxytocin (also know as the “cuddle hormone” which plays a significant role in the cardiovascular system). Oxytocin causes the release of nitric oxide in blood vessels which makes them dilate which reduces blood pressure. Oxytocin also makes you feel calm, generous, trusting and strengthens the immune system!
- You becomes more attractive A new study by Yan Zhang and colleagues assigned participants to three groups and had them rate 60 photographs of unfamiliar female faces, all with neutral expressions. There was no significant difference in rating among the three groups. After two weeks, the participants rated the same pictures again, but this time one group of participants were given positive personality descriptors of the people in the photographs, another group was given negative descriptors, and the third was given no information at all. The group that had been given the positive personality descriptors rated the photographs as more attractive and those that had been given negative personality descriptors gave the lowest ratings to the photographs highlighting that kindness really does make us more attractive.
- You age slower Aging is caused by many things, but two main culprits are free radicals and inflammation. Well, you know that oxytocin hormone we were just talking about? Well it also reduces inflammation and levels of free radicals, thus slowing down two of the key drivers of aging.
- You begin to see kindness all around you Kindness is not only healthy, it’s contagious! More contagious than the flu! As mentioned earlier, kindness stimulates the production of serotonin in our brains and helps us calm down and feel happy. The best part is that this is true for the giver, the receiver and everyone who witnesses it. Just think about it… how do you feel when you see someone pick up a bill a stranger dropped, or help an elderly person onto the bus. It warms your heart right? Makes you want to go out there and be kind too! Or when someone does something kind for you? Makes you want to reciprocate, true? The more we demonstrate kindness, the more others show kindness too…. and while we can’t guarantee the whole world will get kinder overnight, we feel pretty confident that at least your world certainly will!
So then… what are you waiting for? And if you’re not sure how to be kind, here are 102 awesome ideas to spread kindness. One of my personal favorites is this awesome movement by moreloveletters where you can write and send love letters to strangers who are lonely or going through difficulty. Check out their site and send a love letter today.
And if you’re looking for more awesome tips, tools and kindness challenges, join our family by becoming an ALV member.
They say that a single ripple of kindness can go on to create a large wave… let’s go and make some ripples!
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And before you go, if you can spare three minutes, this short video will certainly warm up your heart.