Being kind to others is something virtually all of us have been taught from a very early age. For most of us, kindness is putting others before ourselves (and it very much is) but there are some benefits to being kind both psychological and physiological in nature. What kindness does to the giver impacts them just as much as the receiver.
Here are some of the impacts of being kind.
Being Kind Lowers Your Stress Levels
Helping others and passing kindness along to someone allows you to get outside of yourself and make a positive impact on another’s life. As humans, to a certain degree, we’re selfish. Not in the sense that we only focus on ourselves, but from an evolutionary standpoint, we’re wired to take care of our own interests to protect ourselves from dangerous or threatening scenarios.
By getting outside of ourselves, we begin to create relationships with the people we are kind towards. This relationship-building practice is known as affiliative behavior and gives us a sense of living vicariously through others. These affiliative behaviors lower our stress levels while boosting the relationships they affect. In turn, we feel less stress, more joy, and a greater sense of selflessness.
Kindness Lowers Instances of Illness
As if lowering your own stress wasn’t enough, another function of kindness is that it lowers your chances of getting sick. Lowered stress, naturally, improves our physical well-being in addition to our psychological well-being but all of these things combined lower our chances of illness.
Kindness lowers inflammation in our bodies which is a proven stressor in many different areas of our wellness. From diabetes to high blood pressure to headaches and other illnesses, inflammation is a leading cause of all sorts of problems. Kindness releases a hormone known as oxytocin which, of all things, is an inflammation reducer and therefore a wellness booster!
Your Life Expectancy is Extended
Kindness, for most of us, means doing things for others in our immediate social circles and in all likelihood, the people whom you extend kindness are the closest of friends and family. That said, aside from the act of kindness, and how it affects your well-being, the fact that you maintain an intimate social circle is quite evident.
Science has proven time and time again that having a close-knit community of friends and family can be one of the greatest impacts on improving your life expectancy. Not only do these relationships generally boost your well-being but they can have lasting long-term effects on your mental and physical health while giving you more opportunities to pass kindness along to others.
Your Heart Will Thank You
We all know that feeling in our hearts when we do something outside ourselves. It’s an undeniable part of being human: that warm fuzzy feeling of doing something that benefits someone else more than yourself. Not only will that feeling extend itself with acts of kindness, but your heart will thank you for doing kind things.
It all goes back to the hormone oxytocin. As we mentioned above, kindness releases the hormone oxytocin which has an anti-inflammatory effect throughout our bodies, but no one organ or part of our body benefits more than our heart and cardiovascular system. Oxytocin releases nitric oxide which dilates blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, and generally makes our hearts work less hard and remain in a state of lowered stress.
No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.