On the science of kindness.

kindnesswordsKindness.  Back in the 1980’s kindness would have perhaps been seen as a sign of weakness.  The 80’s was all about the individual, shoulder pads and making money-it was quite aggressive.  In the 20teens kindness and gratitude as acts of wellbeing for ourselves, and towards others, is  popping up in popular culture and the media in all its forms as things we can do more of.  Kindness today is more considered a strength rather than a vulnerability to be exploited.

Yet if you thought about it for a few moments, I am sure there will be some acts of kindness which you have received which have stayed with you perhaps years or decades later.  I remember splitting up with the first big love of life and going into the public toilets to sob.  A lady waited for me to leave my cubicle and held me, gave me tissues and listened.  She couldn’t mend my broken heart but she gave me strength to walk home, and hope-I felt cared for and valued.  There are also the smaller acts of altruism, which are no less important or worthwhile-the opening of a door, letting a car pull out, a smile.

Rick Hanson says our minds are like velcro for negativity and teflon for positivity.  At the end of the day we are more likely to remember the car who blocked our way onto the roundabout at rush hour than the car who left the space.

Being kind is a nice thing to do-you feel good for doing it and the other person feels great to receive it.  According to neuroscience studies, performing acts of kindness activates the same synapses in the brain as eating chocolate or having sex!  People (in a 2005 study) engaged in volunteering saw a reduction in cellular ageing, depression and stress.

Kindness and connection with others has evolved in the human species- they enabled us to cooperate and survive as cave dwellers, and today they are behind acts of donations  in cash for Ebola for example, or old clothes for charity, and giving blood.  It seems there is  much kindness around, perhaps we are not open or receptive towards it?