Growing up, we’ve all often heard this phrase, “treat others as you would like to be treated,” indicating that we treat people with kindness, However, the benefits of being kind extend beyond the recipient of that kind act… it has a wonderful impact on a mental health of the one performing the kind deed. Performing a selfless act increases one’s sense of gratitude and connectedness with the other person, which helps people grow and increase a sense of self-worth in their own lives.
In keeping with the long-drawn, challenging phase of the pandemic, and as things get back on track, kindness is now, more than ever, needed. Simply sending a thoughtful message to a friend, helping an elderly neighbour, or agreeing to an afternoon of babysitting can make a huge difference in someone’s day.
The Expression, “It is better to give than receive,” is actually backed by research, where those who are compassionate are known to gain in terms of wellbeing, happiness and even longevity. Kindness as a virtue has many benefits for the human body and mind.
Kindness is defined as ‘having sensitivity to the distress of others with a commitment to try and do something about it’. Hence, being kind is both – understanding and responding to the pain and needs of others. Kindness without action means nothing.
How Kindness Influences Brain Activity: Amazingly, the act of kindness can be seen in your brain activity. Areas of the brain show heightened activity within people who demonstrate kindness on a regular basis. Random acts of kindness also release both – endorphins and serotonin, chemicals associated with the pleasure centres of the brain. These acts even appear to create new connections in the brain, which is one way to say that kindness can become habit forming. Studies show that just thinking about being kind can have a soothing effect on the emotional regulation centre of the brain. Endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain killers, are also released by simple acts of kindness.
How Kindness Influence Your Mood And Your Body: Kindness has been shown to increase self-esteem and improve the mood. It can decrease Blood Pressure and cortisol – a stress hormone, which directly impacts stress levels.
Kindness increases your sense of connectivity with others, which can directly impact loneliness, change low moods and enhance relationships. Kindness helps you feel better about yourself especially if you tend to be anxious or stressed. What’s amazing is that kindness is contagious! Being kind to someone has a ripple-effect, moving outwards through family, friends, the community, and to people all around us. The recipients of kindness are more likely to pass it on by being kind to those around them. Kindness is infectious, just like a good mood which can bring others joy and help them get into a positive state of mind. And let’s not forget that ‘charity begins at home’, so don’t forget to be kind with your own self as well! Extend kindness to yourself in your self-talk and learn to practice gratitude daily.
As we approach our New Year, here are a few simple ways to perform random acts of kindness:
- Reach Out To A Friend Or A Loved One: Check in with friends and family, just to let them know you’re thinking about them. You could also send heartfelt words to a friend you haven’t connected with in a while.
- Help The Elderly Or Your Neighbour: Help the elderly or help a neighbour with their chores like fetching groceries, helping them clean up their home, or other chores they could need help with.
- Offer A Break To An Exhausted Parent: Managing kids along with office demands is hard on parents. Offering to babysit can be a great way of giving them that much needed break.
- Share Positive Feedback: Leave a positive Google or Zomato/Swiggy etc. review after a good experience at a local restaurant or store or for the Swiggy delivery staff. Take a minute to commend the person who served you.
- Donate Clothing/Usable Items: Simple things like towels and blankets can be welcome at animal shelters and homes for the underprivileged.
- Sponsor A Meal: For your house-help, the watchman, driver or buy a warm meal for someone in need.
- Start Volunteering: This is a great way to help others. Volunteering has proven to benefit people of all ages, through increasing feelings of self-esteem, social connection and wellbeing.
- Bring Kindness To Your Workplace: Giving genuine compliments to your colleagues helps reduce employee burnout, absenteeism and improves well-being. A simple thank you email always works wonders too!
There are several ways to express and engage in random acts of kindness. Simply ask yourself, “How am I going to practice kindness today?” and always remember to be kind to yourself too! Being kind to others starts with being kind to you! I conclude with a quote by the wise and holy Dalai lama, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Saal Mubarak!