I know I have shared similar sentiments about the importance of kindness, but I believe it bears to be retold over and over again as I find more and more on the positive benefits. Besides the obvious benefit of bringing joy to receiver, kindness brings joy to the giver; as I believe most of you know. But, did you know that people who witness kindness in action also get a benefit from this event? Yes, indeed. One act of kindness touches at least three hearts: the heart of the recipient, the heart of the giver, and the heart of the witness or observer. A little kindness does a lot!
Multiple scientific studies have shown that the act of kindness has a positive effect on the immune system and on the increased production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that has a calming, mood regulating, and anti-anxiety effect. Serotonin is considered a joy-inducing substance because it serves as a pathway(a catalyst) for delight in the brain. The function of most anti-depressant medications is to stimulate the production of serotonin chemically, which helps ease depression.
One of the most fascinating research findings to come out in recent years is that whenever a simple act of kindness is extended by a human being towards another, it results in a significant improvement in the functioning of the immune system and increased production of serotonin in the giver, recipient and the observer of the simple act of kindness. (Read more: http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/act-of-kindness#ixzz2FRdItP3o) A Harvard study called this the Mother Teresa Effect because a group of over 130 Harvard students were tested before and after viewing a film on the life of Mother Teresa for an important antibody found in their saliva important to their immune system. The students had a noteworthy increase in this antibody after watching the charity works of Mother Teresa in her life story.
You can do your own research. How do you feel after watching a program like Extreme Makeover Home Edition or Touched by an Angel, where people are uplifted by other people? I am willing to bet you feel wonderful. I also believe that as we approach significant holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas where you people see more goodwill and acts of kindness, there is a greater amount of joy in the hearts of all the people involved. Furthermore, there are more heart-warming movies being broadcast on television and shown in the movie theaters. How do you feel after doing a good deed? How do you feel when you see someone performing a good deed? How do you feel when someone helps you out?
According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, “Non-pharmacological methods of raising brain serotonin may not only improve mood and social functioning of healthy people — a worthwhile objective even without additional considerations — but would also make it possible to test the idea that increases in brain serotonin may help protect against the onset of various mental and physical disorders.” According to experts, the following strategies to raise serotonin levels are worthy of further investigation: the power of suggestion (viewing acts of kindness or suggesting to yourself to be joyful), exposure to bright light (like being outdoors in the sunshine), exercise (runner’s high comes to mind), and diet (eating well-balanced foods that you enjoy).
The benefits are many, but the take home message is: A little KINDNESS does A LOT! Now, the task is to narrow the list of what you can do to spread kindness around because the opportunities are truly endless. What are your favorite acts of kindness to do, observe or receive? My favorites are sharing and receiving a heartfelt smiles, sincere compliments and undivided attention.
- 6 Ways to Combat Depression (healthyhighway.wordpress.com)
- Adequate Serotonine Levels without Drugs? (feastwithoutfear.wordpress.com)
- The Benefits of Scalp Massage (caringtouchspa.com)
- Gut Instincts & your second Brain (drysdaleosteopathy.wordpress.com)
- Exercise and the Brain: Anxiety-related Receptors (brainposts.blogspot.com)
- The Gift of Giving – The Fourth Holiday Mental Moment (runningnakedwithscissors.com)
- Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness (awakenedlives.com)
- Five Ways to Boost Your Natural Happy Chemicals (psychologytoday.com)