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4 selfish reasons to do random acts of kindness

 

National Random Acts of Kindness Day is today but did you know that random acts of kindness are mutually beneficial?

1.kindness increases your lifespan!

Research shows that people aged 55 and over who volunteered for 2 or more organisations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early. That’s after sifting out every other contributing factor including physical health, habits like smoking, marital status, and many more. Sociologist Christine Carter suggests that random acts of kindness have a stronger effect than exercising 4 times a week or going to a place of worship [1]. Whatsmore, The University of Columbia found that kind people have 23% lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol [4] and that's important because stress can shorten one’s life expectancy by 2.8 years! [2]

 

2.It boosts your feel-good chemicals messengers

The British Psychological Society suggests that random acts of kindness can boost your levels of dopamine and serotonin [5]. Dopamine is your reward and pleasure chemical messenger that is responsible for modulating emotional states, sex drive [6], and the capacity to handle your everyday stress [7]. Serotonin is your feel-good chemical messenger that can help regulate mood, anxiety, appetite, and sleep. According to Natural Health magazine, “a US study on the health, happiness, and volunteering habits of 3,296 people found that 95% of participants reported feeling good when they helped someone, while 21 % felt euphoric” [8].

3.It promotes gratuity...and it has a ripple effect!

A study found that participants who spent their income on others experienced greater happiness than those who spent money only on themselves [9] but the greatest impact might yet be on community and societal attitudes to kindness. People are more likely to perform acts of generosity after observing someone else doing it or receiving an act of kindness [10], this can induce a ripple effect. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and Harvard discovered that cooperative behaviour is contagious and can spread from a person to another [11].

4.It improves optimism and self-esteem

The Mental Health Foundation suggests that doing random acts of kindness for others who are less fortunate can help you to put things into perspective and make you feel more positive [12]. A study published by Dr. Emmons from the University of California and Dr. McCullough from the University of Miami demonstrated that after 10 weeks those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives [13].

Random acts of kindness ideas:

  • Donate to a charity such as the Mental Health Foundation that has a mission to help people to thrive through understanding, protecting, and sustaining their mental health. You can find out how to donate here.
  • Kindness doesn’t have to be monetary or materialistic; lend your time to listen to someone, carry someone’s shopping, open doors for someone or write someone a personal letter instead of sending a text message.
  • Environmental good causes that allow you to pay forward to future generations such as offsetting your carbon footprint, planting trees or picking up rubbish from community areas.
  • Start a fundraiser for something your truly passionate about
[1]Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (2021) The Science of Kindness. [2]Science Daily (2020) Heavy stress and lifestyle can predict how long we live. [3]Poulin et al (2013) Giving to Others and the Association Between Stress and Mortality. American Journal of Public Health. [4]BBC (2020) Mental Health Awareness Week 2020: The importance of being kind. [5]The British Psychological Society (2020) How being kind benefits us psychologically. [6]Nootriment (2018) Is tyrosine the best dopamine-boosting supplement to take?  [7]Grevet et al (2002) Behavioural effects of acute phenylalanine and tyrosine depletion in healthy male volunteers. Journal of Psychopharmacology. [8]Natural Health Magazine (2013) Spiritual You: The power of kindness.  [9]Dunn et al (2008) Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness. Science. [10]UCL (2020) 10 benefits of helping others. [11]Science Daily (2010) Acts of kindness spread surprisingly easily: just a few people can make a difference. [12]Mental Health Foundation (2021) What are the health benefits of altruism?[13]Harvard Health (2011) Giving thanks can make you happier. 

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