You’ll feel better, as will others. Kindness is contagious.
Did you know that science plays a role in how kindness affects our brains and our bodies?
“I call it the ‘trifecta’ effect,” says Brooke Jones, vice president of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. “We all know that when we commit an act of kindness or receive one, we feel good. There is an increase in oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine as well as a decrease in cortisol. But what most people don’t know is that the person who witnesses an act of kindness has the same physiological response in their body with the same increases and decreases in those chemicals. Oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine are ‘feel good’ chemicals that aid in lowering blood pressure, improving overall heart health and help us feel calmer and less depressed. Cortisol is the ‘stress’ hormone that has been found to decrease in the bloodstream when people regularly participate in kind acts.”
So, if science proves kindness can make us feel better (in addition to being better), is there a way to learn how to be kinder? Can we change the emotional well-being of the world with kindness? Jones says “absolutely.” And in fact, that’s what staff at Random Acts of Kindness strive for every day with free kindness curriculum for students. Globally, the RAK curriculum reaches more than 2 million students a year.
“We know it can be taught,” she says. “One of the resources we offer is an evidence-based curriculum rooted in kindness. It has a full year of lesson plans covering concepts like compassion, respect, responsibility, integrity and gratitude. When we practice kindness and begin to embody it, we are naturally teaching others why it’s important.”
Here are some tips from RAK on how to spread and create kindness:
- Be kind to others: Text someone good morning or goodnight. Write a positive review for your favorite local business. Bring in your neighbor’s trash bin. Gift an inspirational book.
- Be kind to the environment: Conserve water. Eat local. Adjust your thermostat. Pay bills online.
- Be kind to yourself: Set goals. Start an exercise routine. Eat well. Learn a new skill.
Get more tips at randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas.
Learn more about the science of kindness at dartmouth.edu/wellness/emotional/rakhealthfacts.pdf.