The proven reasons you should be kind to others

From getting a ‘helper’s high’ to increasing energy levels and lowering blood pressure, being kind is good for our body and our mind.

It turns out kindness really does matter – to others and to ourselves.

US researchers at Emory University found that when we do a good deed, we get a “helper’s high”.

Our brain is flooded with the feel-good hormone, serotonin, which eases stress and makes kindness a win-win arrangement for giver and receiver.

Similarly, a study at the University of British Columbia in Canada found being kind can ease anxiety.

Researchers asked people who described themselves as “highly anxious” to do at least six kind acts for others every week.

After a month people felt less anxious and more socially connected.

Why being kind makes us feel good

Scientist Dr David Hamilton, author of The Five Side Effects of Kindness, says when we’re kind our body also releases a hormone called oxytocin.

This triggers a chemical process that expands blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and protecting our heart.

Oxytocin also reduces damaging inflammation in the body that plays a major role in heart disease.

Dr Nicholas Hookway, senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Tasmania, agrees that kindness brings a cascade of benefits and that small everyday acts of kindness are just as important, if not more important, than grand gestures.

“It can be helping someone who looks lost, phoning a family member who’s going through a difficult time, or dropping a meal around to someone who is sick,” says Nicholas.

His research found 96 per cent of Australians see themselves as kind and 81 per cent of people think most Australians are kind.

Nearly everyone who took part in the research – 98 per cent – saw being kind as important and over half of people said they are kind every day.

“About two thirds of people said they were kind to a stranger at least monthly,” says Nicholas.

“And younger generations were more likely to report being kind to strangers on a monthly basis and to carry out kind acts every month.

“That goes against the perception that younger generations are the ‘me’ generation stuck on their mobile phones.”

7 Ways to be kind

  • Take out your neighbour’s rubbish bin
  • Make an effort to find out something new about a colleague
  • Send a friend an encouraging email to boost their spirits
  • Cook a meal for someone who is unwell
  • Tell someone who serves you in a café or store that you appreciate their help
  • Put come coins in an expired parking meter for a stranger
  • Text someone good morning or good night to let them know you’re thinking about them.

Source: Random Acts of Kindness

Written by Sarah Marinos.