Kindness can be taught. A researcher from the University of Wisconsin says, “It’s kind of like weight training, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”
Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, occasionally referred to as the ‘love hormone’ which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. Oxytocin also increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we’re in anxious or shy in a social situation.
The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!
“Kindness can jumpstart a cascade of positive social consequences. Helping others leads people to like you, appreciate you, to offer gratitude. It also may lead people to reciprocate in your times of need. Helping others can satisfy a basic human need for connecting with others, winning you smiles, thankfulness, and valued friendship.” —Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., professor of psychology, University of California, Riverside.
Doing acts of kindness reduces anxiety. During four weeks, University of British Columbia researchers assigned people with high levels of anxiety to do kind acts for other people at least six times a week. The researchers found that doing nice things for people led to a significant increase in people's positive moods. It also led to an increase in relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance in socially anxious individuals.
Helping others increases energy! “About half of participants in one study report that they feel stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth” Christine Carter
According to the Greater Good Science Center, “Researchers believe practicing random acts of kindness makes you feel happier because it makes you think more highly of yourself and become more aware of positive social interactions."
A 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that people who are altruistic—in this case, people who were generous financially, such as with charitable donations—were happiest overall.
According to research from Emory University, when you are kind to another person, your brain's pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed—not the giver. This phenomenon is called the “helper's high.”
People who volunteer live a longer more satisfied life. “People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving help 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 an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying, and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.” — Christine Carter, Author, “Raising Happiness; In Pursuit of Joyful Kids and Happier Parents”.lower likelihood of dying, and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.” — Christine Carter, Author, “Raising Happiness; In Pursuit of Joyful Kids and Happier Parents”
Committing acts of kindness lowers blood pressure. According to Dr. David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness create emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a "cardioprotective" hormone. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.