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ACTS OF KINDNESS
At this unprecedented time of change, I am sure we can all talk vividly about our on-going unique and shared personal challenges and experiences. Being able to give acknowledgement, empathy and compassion to ourselves right now and to others is crucial for our wellness.
Only the other day I was on the receiving end of a complete stranger thanking me for giving them space on the pavement. They sincerely looked me in the eye and thanked me with eyes full of smiles. I was left with a warm, cosy feeling as if I had been hugged! I am witnessing more and more acts of kindness every day, where masked people are finding ways to connect kindly with others. Only recently in the paper someone talked about how she was ‘moved at the dump’ after experiencing an act of kindness.
Perhaps we can see these times as an opportunity to learn and grow within; to move closer to flowing more freely on the winds of change. To be freer of fearful thoughts and fear-induced decision making, staying well in ourselves, and helping others along the way. Random acts of kindness can help us on that path of positive change for the greater good.
Scientific research shows that during an act of kindness both the giver and receiver’s health is being enhanced, and even those that witness such kindness can benefit too!
When we naturally do these acts it has been discovered that there is an automatic release of neurochemicals that help us to feel good and to stay well! Even observing and acknowledging someone else’s acts of kindness can set off within us a positive physiological response.
- Endorphins (natural painkiller) can be produced helping with aches and pains
- Increased Oxytocin – helping to lower blood pressure – balancing our nervous system and helping us to feel more connected and not alone
- Stress hormone Cortisol is reduced helping us to feel less anxious and stressed
- Our immune system is boosted
- Increased energy, feelings of calmness and higher levels of self-worth
- Inner happiness is increased by both the giver and receiver
- ‘Helpers High’ – the brain’s reward and pleasure-centres simply ‘light up’- the ‘giver’ also feels ‘given to’
- Increased Serotonin levels our ‘feel good’ neurochemical helps to lift our mood.
At these times of a rapid spread of negativity through the media, why don’t we take conscious steps to spread something that simply warms the heart and helps reset a more positive world stage for all.
An act of kindness could be large or small:
- Speak kind words to ourselves and others
- Be a good listener
- Say ‘thank you’
- Open a door for someone
- Smile inwardly and outwardly to others
- Offer help or give something
- Graciously receive someone’s offer of help or gift
- Show appreciation and gratitude to yourself and to others
- Give an honest compliment
- Ask how someone is.
World Kindness day 13th November but why not make it every day – it costs nothing!
Research sources: Harvard, Berkeley Greater Good Science Centre, Emory University, Talva Steinberg PsvD for Psychology Today, Henry Ford Livewell
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