Living a life of true happiness all boils down to one’s perspective. But how can one achieve it? Although there’s no exact recipe for becoming happy, Project Bold Life author Ed Kopko thinks kindness is one of them. Here’s how he finds the significance of the act of giving in changing the world and finding your permanent joy.
Kindness is one of the most positive forms of social connections that buffer stress and improve one’s happiness. This positive interpersonal connection often results from pro-social behaviors, like almsgiving, donations, and providing social support. Giving or kindness also includes compassion, generosity, and care during an engagement, which develops joy and cheer within oneself.
Kindness also induces other-praising moral emotions or positive feelings that occur when witnessing virtuous acts. In addition, they uplift physical sensations like warmth and tearfulness.
The Lack of Kindness in the World
In a 2020 health study, experts noted that 5.6 million children have anxiety and 2.4 million have depression. But despite their growing numbers, only 80% got the mental health services they needed.
Today’s society focuses on three aspects, convenience, success, and swiftness. Society considers material success and convenience as happiness. But to do that, achieving them in a short period is essential. In addition, people are now more critical of how you accomplish things. These perceptions hinder kindness from fostering in society while encouraging toxic competition and unrealistic expectations of becoming successful. Due to this, children grow unsure of their capabilities and choices, feeling more anxious with every decision they make.
The Science of Kindness
Consideration, compassion, and thoughtfulness are the crux of kindness. Although they’re advantageous qualities, being kind is not only a trait showing one’s excellent character. There’s also a science behind it. Numerous medical experts noted that kindness could even bring biological changes.
Studies show that kindness provides people with physical health benefits and socio-psychological advantages. Witnessing or doing acts of kindness can permanently change your brain, boost your serotonin and dopamine production, and release endorphins, which act as your body’s natural painkiller.
Almsgiving can also be cardioprotective as it decreases blood pressure and cortisol, the stress hormone which impacts your stress levels. In addition to creating biochemical changes in your brain, being kind also releases oxytocin, the neurotransmitter essential in promoting bonds and making them.
Oxytocin also reduces inflammation. In doing so, it protects you from having chronic diseases like obesity and cancer, which leads to better health and overall longevity.
When it comes to psychological health, many therapists use compassion-focused therapy. The process mixes techniques from other psychotherapy forms and concepts from Buddhist psychology and neuroscience. CFT works well in helping people who develop high levels of self-criticism and self-hate.
In addition, kind people feel more energetic, less depressed, and calmer when helping others. Giving help also acts as an enhancer to one’s longevity, as it makes working out, dieting, and healthy habits more effective.
Pleasure is also a bonus when doing acts of kindness. When you’re kind, the brain’s pleasure and reward centers heighten, making you feel more of a recipient instead of the giver.
“Our bodies are hard-wired for giving. When we give, our endorphins kick in, giving us this natural high feeling. They actually call it the ‘Helper’s High.’” – Jacqueline Way, Founder of 365 Give
Starting Kindness to Change the World
Although the science of kindness makes you understand the inner workings of compassion and the benefits you reap from practicing the trait, they’re not the only things you need to change the world. Yes, every thought and action is worth it, but kindness begins with yourself.
Kindness only works when you accept yourself and be more compassionate whenever you run into failures or setbacks. The best way to change the world is by practicing what you preach, and for kindness to foster, people need to believe they’re worth the same way they treat others.
Here are other ways to spread kindness that can permanently change the world.
Leading with Compassion
Compassion is essential to kindness and allows people to recognize everyone’s shared human condition. It guides people to offer and receive several acts of kindness. Once you lead with a compassionate nature, offering goodwill to everyone around you becomes easier.
Not everyone can control other people the same way people can control themselves. Sometimes, choosing kindness looks impossible, especially in events full of hostility and suspicion. Although not everyone can be considerate, aspiring to be kind, no matter what is essential.
Give Instead of Receive
The purest form of kindness is when you give them without self-serving interest. Paybacks mean nothing and are sometimes non-existent, but small gestures like helping someone finish their tasks without asking them to do it for you in the future can make the rewards better. Other examples would be:
- Planting trees and joining reforestation efforts
- Buying a stranger a cup of coffee
- Helping an elderly with her shopping bags
- Letting someone in a rush cut in front of your line
Destressing the world always starts with the individual, and kindness is no exception. But with the science of generosity, people experience life and brain-altering effects that benefit you and the society.
Don’t forget the book that lays out the principles of goal-achievement and attaining a Bold Life!