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The Science Behind Kindness

Acting from a place of kindness, in any manner, connects to hormones and chemicals in your heart and mind. Beyond a surface-level sensation of "feeling good" after engaging in the act of kindness, the chemicals in your body are reacting positively, as well.

Kindness links to serotonin and oxytocin, perhaps more commonly known as the 'love hormone.' After having committed an act of kindness, serotonin production increases. This happiness chemical works to calm you down and, believe it or not, heal your wounds. Oxytocin works similarly, as it lowers your blood pressure and improves your heart health. From such shifts, your self-esteem rises, and your perspective of the world might feel more positive.

In sum, here are some benefits of being kind:

● Increased serotonin levels

● Increased oxytocin levels (the 'love hormone')

● Lowered blood pressure

● Improved heart health

● Boosted self-esteem

● An optimistic perspective of the world

Kind acts might not come so naturally to some, especially those who find themselves anxious or shy when in public or demanding social situations. Luckily, merely finding a minor act of kindness will boost your confidence and make you more comfortable, thanks to the bliss brought about by serotonin and oxytocin.

If you are feeling out place or on edge, you might take a moment to lend someone else a hand or offer a genuine compliment. From there, notice if you relax into your situation a bit more naturally.

Decreasing Symptoms

Kindness increases some good stuff, that's for sure. On the other end, it also works to decrease some not-so-good occurrences. Engaging in acts of kindness stimulates the production of endorphins, an increase for the better, thereby reducing pain. Endorphins are a natural painkiller produced by the human body and believe it or not, but you do have some control over how they work.

The stress hormone, cortisol, which is critically high in modern minds, is far lower in people who are considered to be kind, according to a study at Dartmouth College. Thanks to their kindness and lessened cortisol levels, such services allow them to age slower and with less stress than the average person in our population.

Linking Altruism & Joy

Selflessly giving to others causes your brain to light up in the realms of pleasure and reward. Emory University's research in recent years supports the idea that your brain reacts similarly when you are the one on the receiving end of kindness. You feel good when you give to another and when you are given something from another. The pleasure center activated in your brain can be brought about by generosity both ways, so why not weave some more giving and sharing into your days? Both parties will come out on the other side a bit better off. Perhaps, they’ll even send the love down the line and the kindness will ripple further along.

Growing Your Kindness

As in all things, you can learn and practice how to be kind. Dr. Ritchie Davidson at the University of Wisconsin compares kindness & compassion to weight-training. People can build up their compassion 'muscle' and learn to more readily and adequately react to those in need of care or an act of kindness. Only one moment of mindful compassion per day can build to be a lifelong habit, and lengthen your lifespan, according to Christine Carter of "Raising Happiness," as you go along.

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