According to Psychology Today, kindness involves selfless actions and a mindset that places compassion-for-others before your own interests. Happiness researcher Christine Carter explains that people who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving helps to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have a 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after sifting out contributing factors, like physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, and marital status.
A research study out of the University of British Columbia- in which a group of highly anxious individuals performed at least six acts of kindness a week- found that after one month, there was a significant increase in positive moods, relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social anxiety. In other words, in this study, acts of kindness reduced anxiety. If you are worried, stressed, or anxious, make acts of kindness a daily practice and see what happens.
Research shows that performing acts of kindness positively impacts mental health by increasing the neurotransmitters in the brain that make us feel satisfied and good: Acts of kindness can increase the hormone that makes us feel connected to each other and helps us trust each other, ”A study in the journal Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science found that people who practiced a-kindness-mindset lowered their stress hormones by 23%. Try practicing random kind actions towards others every day and see what a difference it makes.
Here is advice for parents: teach your kids to practice kindness. Children who engage in acts of kindness tend to be better connected, have higher levels of peer acceptance and are less likely to bully others. Encourage acts of kindness by;
- Giving your kids responsibilities and opportunities that include selflessness and kindness
- By role modeling acts of kindness and positive actions toward others
- Finally talk about and demonstrate what a positive difference empathy and compassion towards others can make in the world.
We have discussed how research indicates kindness is a powerful way to enhance your mental health. Here are some other kindness ideas:
- Let someone else go first.
- Give an unexpected gift.
- Pay for the person behind you in the drive-through or the grocery store.
- The next time you’re in a restaurant, leave an extremely generous tip.
- Do a chore for someone without telling them.
- Write a handwritten note telling someone something you appreciate about them.
Friends, make kindness a daily practice and see what a difference it makes!
-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCCS, Executive Director