Most parents and many religions teach that being kind to others is a basic tenant of being a good human being. While the moral implications of kindness are obvious, science is now discovering that there are tangible benefits to being kind to others. Here are a few ways that doing good is good for you.
Love Others To Love Yourself
Low self-esteem sounds like a fairly innocuous problem, but it can lead to mental health challenges. Many of the best mental health tips have to do with self-care. The problem is that taking care of yourself when you have low self-esteem is hard. It turns out that being kind to others can alter your negative view of yourself and create a pathway to greater self-love.
When you engage in acts of kindness towards others, a lot of very positive things begin to happen. The person you are kind to benefits from your actions, but so do you. According to healthyplace.com, being kind to others can make you feel good about yourself, increase feelings of empowerment and fix your focus on positivity. This is a powerful way to refute negative self-talk, increase self-worth and take the next step of being kind to yourself.
Give Kindness and Get Healthier
Acts of kindness have physiological effects as well. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation cites numerous scientific studies that show that being kind to others starts a cascade of chemical reactions in the body that lead to better health.
Being kind to others produces oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone” because it increases feelings of well-being, but it is also known to lower blood pressure, increase heart health and decrease inflammation. Heart-related diseases are amongst the most serious health issues in the world, and systemic inflammation contributes to many chronic autoimmune diseases. It is astounding that the simple act of being kind can have a noticeable effect on such serious illnesses.
Acts of kindness also produce endorphins. Anyone who exercises knows that endorphins have a positive effect on mood, but did you know they are a powerful painkiller? The National Institutes of Health report that these natural painkillers can have an effect as powerful as morphine. That’s great news for those suffering from chronic pain.
Additionally, engaging in kindness is known to decrease levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone”, and in excess, it can contribute to depression, anxiety, heart disease, glucose imbalances and loss of memory and focus. Stress reduction is mandatory for mental and physical health, and being kind to others is a painless way to go about it.
Being Kind Is Easier Than You Think
With so many serious problems in the world, many people fall into the trap of thinking that if they can’t fix the big problems, so what’s the point? Mother Teresa once said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” Acts of kindness do not have to be sweeping to have positive effects on others or yourself. Here are a few simple ways to make being kind a part of your daily life:
- Volunteer with a community organization.
- When you’re bringing your garbage can up from the street, bring up the neighbors as well.
- Say yes to rounding up store purchases when asked to.
- Donate blood.
- Send a handwritten note to someone telling them what they mean to you.
- The next time you think something nice about someone, say it to them out loud.
- Give more hugs and hold on until the other person lets go.
- Give random compliments to people you don’t know.
- Start each day with the intention of finding at least one way to show kindness to others.
If you need some help coming up with ideas for acts of kindness, check out the Mayo Clinic’s Kickstart Kindness program.
Everyone benefits from kindness, and that includes you. Even small acts of kindness can be more impactful to others than you will ever know. And while you’re making the world a better place, you’ll find yourself feeling calmer, happier, and healthier. That’s a big payoff for something so easy to give.