5:10 Series of Habit Hacks for an Improved Lifestyle: KINDNESS
Thank you for every person dedicating his or her time to reading this article. Gentle reminders of what is 'right' and 'healthy' with actionable steps transforms lives. Consistency of habits that serve your being, as opposed to sporadic good decisions, are a catalyst for lifestyle betterment.
# 5 KINDNESS
A few weeks ago, I was walking to Birch Coffee on a sunny Sunday morning and noticed a man sitting on the corner of the sidewalk, an empty cup by his bare feet and a sign in his left hand. I smiled and a thought arose: I could buy him a drink. I chose Jasmine tea for its calming effects on the body and used a sharpie to write "You are loved" on the cup.
Our hormones are highly responsive to actions from the heart. Witnessing an exchange of kindness produces oxytocin; oxytocin elevates our mood and improves heart health, which lowers blood pressure. Without even lifting a finger or spending a dime, we benefit from seeing another's generosity of love. Observing events has a profound chemical effect within the body; external environments shape our internal environments.
Studies from Emory University showed evidence of a "Helper's High." The person providing an act of love to another activated the brain's reward system, stimulating pleasure in the mind through doing. Random acts of kindness create physiological effects such as improved cognitive function, longevity, and strengthened immune systems.
Yale University conducted a study tracking participants' daily stressful experiences, kind acts, emotions, and mental health. "Those who reported performing more acts of kindness showed no dips in positive emotion or mental health. And they had lower increases in negative emotion in response to high daily stress." Dartmouth University published a report from the RAK Foundation, "Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol and age slower than the average person." Assisting another improves personal well-being, mental, and emotional state of being.
Health in our Western worldview is typically limited to the physical body and its ailments, treatment rather than prevention. Studies that provide evidence of environmental triggers, within our control, having an effect on the nervous system broaden our medicinal toolbox. I urge us all to find the courage and slow down half a second to keep the door open for the one behind us; compliment a stranger's outfit; offer to pay for a friend's lunch. Acting kindly towards others is a Win-Win, your well-being benefits and their day brightens. Bottomline: When you help another, you help yourself.
Advani, Priya. "How Random Acts of Kindness Can Benefit Your Health." Huffington Post (2013).
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. "RAK Health Facts." Dartmouth University.
Marcus, Mary Brophy. "Doing Small Acts of Kindness May Lower Your Stress." CBS News (2015).
Miller, Lauren. "An Attitude of Gratitude and Random Acts of Kindness Can Release the Stress in Your Life"