The Science Behind How Kindness Heals
If you read my previous post you will see that I am launching a #kindnesscounts movement. Below please find 4 scientistic facts on how kindness heals. I invite you to join the campaign and bring greater kindness into your life and the lives of others.
How Kindness Heals:
1. Kindness is good for our physical health: In recent years, studying kindness has been receiving increased attention in the scientific community. Studies have shown that kindness will strengthen our immune system, reduce our aches and pains, improve our cardiovascular profile, and that being kind increases energy and strength in elderly people. In a 2006 study, the most loving and kind couples were shown to have the lowest levels of atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries). The Dignity Health/CCARE scientific literature review shows that when patients are treated with kindness — when there is an effort made to get to know them, empathize with them, communicate with them, listen to them and respond to their needs — it can lead to the following outcomes: faster healing of wounds, reduced pain, reduced anxiety, reduced blood pressure, and shorter hospital stays.
2. Kindness improves our resiliency: Resiliency is our ability to accept reality and to then bounce back after experiencing stress, challenge, and adversity. Recent research suggests that kindness may improve resilience by promoting feelings of happiness and peace, and supporting immunity. David R. Hamilton, PhD addresses in his book Kindness Holds the Fabric of Human Society Together that being kind massively reduces stress and also makes us more resilient to stressful events.
3. Being kind leads us to have better relationships: Going back thousands of years, our ancestors had to learn to cooperate and cohabitate with each other. The stronger the emotional bonds within groups, the greater were the chances of survival and so “kindness genes” were etched into the human genome. In present times, kind people have also been shown to have a greater amount of empathy. Duke University professor Scott Huettel found that more-selfless people have more activity in the posterior superior temporal cortex, the part of the brain associated with taking someone else’s perspective and understanding their actions. Those skills are key in relationships, where feeling seen and accepted is the bond holding people together. In marriages, kindness and emotional stability are the most important predictors of satisfaction and solidity. Evidence shows the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.
4. Kindness makes us happier: Research studies have shown that being kind will lead to an increase in our happiness and overall life satisfaction. On a biochemical level, there is a good reason why we feel happier when contributing to others. The amazing feeling we get when being kind to others is due to elevated levels of the brain’s natural versions of morphine and heroin, which we know as endogenous opioids. They cause elevated levels of dopamine in the brain, resulting in a natural high often referred to as “Helper’s High.”