As the pursuit of happiness continues in our societies, we tend to look for elements outside ourselves to fulfil that quest. What if I tell you that kindness has the ability to uplift our moods, while positively impacting our bodies; would you be surprised?
Well, allow me to break down the science behind kindness for you so you are aware of the astonishing benefits. Our bodies responds positively when an act of kindness has been given, received or even witnessed. Here is how our bodies react to kindness:
Feeling happier and loving:
The brain sends a neurotransmitter chemical to the body called Oxytocin (known as the love hormone). The oxytocin is mainly produced during hugging, physical contact and childbirth.
According to Medical News Today, Oxytocin “has physical and psychological effects, including influencing social behavior and emotion”. Apart from the cosy feeling of love, oxytocin increases our self-esteem and optimism. It is also responsible for feeling an increased sense of connectedness, belonging and sense of trust.
kindness also stimulates the production of serotonin (a feel good hormone) which heals wounds, calms and increases happiness. Hence improves mood, depression and anxiety.
Protecting our heart:
With the release of oxytocin, another hormone gets triggered called ‘nitric oxide’ in the body. It is responsible for dilating our blood vessels, which helps in reducing blood pressure and protecting the heart. That’s why it’s also called a “cardioprotective” hormone.
Kind people age slower and tend to have lower stress than the average person. Scientists discovered that kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population (Research by McCraty et al (1998)
Lucky for us, being kind also reduces wrinkles if practiced often. Dr. David Hamilton explains that in details that, “stress speeds up ageing, kindness slows it down”.
Did I also mention that kindness also releases endorphins in the brain, which a natural painkiller? Well not only that, endorphins also reduce stress and lift up the mood.
Good for our brains:
Kindness has the ability to elevate the levels of dopamine in the brain causing pleasure/reward centres to light up. This is known as the ‘helpers high.’
The new science of Neuroplasticity – which is the 'muscle building' part of the brain – have discovered that kindness is an enhancer to building new neural pathways in the brain. When we fill our minds with wholesome thoughts, positive habits and aspirations, then we are harnessing neuroplasticity for a positive purpose.
Dr. Zoran Josipovic, a research associate at NYU Langone Medical Center, mentioned that research in the field of contemplative neuroscience has shown that kindness and related competencies can be trained, resulting in both functional and structural neural plasticity.
Now that you are more familiar with science behind kindness, please go out in the world and create a big wave of kindness. Remembering that you will not only make it a kinder environment, but you are also nourishing your own body, heart and mind.