Science reveals that kindness is a chemical!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is known for spreading the word of peace and kindness for all people. He believed that every person deserves to be seen as a whole, individual person. As a prominent spokesperson during the Civil Rights movement, Dr. King routinely participated in acts of kindness for all people.
He is one of the most influential leaders in history and a true inspiration to me. When I feel like quitting, I think of him and his heart for God. I’m reminded that quitting is not an option!
But, what about the naysayers that have given my blog negative reviews because my words haven’t been “scientifically proven.” I decided to dig a little further.
Did You Know?
Kindness Is Teachable
“It’s kind of like weight training; we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”
Dr. Ritchie Davidson, University of Wisconsin
Kindness Is Contagious
The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood, and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!
Kindness Increases: The Love Hormone
Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, occasionally referred to as the ‘love hormone,’ which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. Oxytocin also increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we’re anxious or shy in a social situation.
Kindness is chemical!!!! Most research on the science behind why kindness makes us feel better has centered around oxytocin.
Oxytocin plays a role in forming social bonds and trusting other people. It’s the hormone mothers produce when they breastfeed, cementing their bond with their babies.
Oxytocin is also released when we’re physically intimate. It’s tied to making us more trusting, more generous, and friendlier, while also lowering our blood pressure.
Acts of kindness can also give our love hormone levels a boost, research suggests.
“We’re building better selves and better communities at the same time.” Dr. IsHak from Cedars-Sinai says studies have also linked random acts of kindness to releasing dopamine, a chemical messenger in the brain that can give us a feeling of euphoria. This feel-good brain chemical is credited with causing what’s known as a “helper’s high.”
In addition to boosting oxytocin and dopamine, being kind can also increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood.
Put Kindness On Repeat
The good news is that a simple act of kindness can reward our bodies and minds with feel-good chemical substances. However, the effect isn’t lasting. A single act of kindness isn’t going to carry you through several days—or even hours.
“The trick you need to know: Acts of kindness have to be repeated,” Dr. IsHak says. “Biochemically, you can’t live on the 3-to-4-minute oxytocin boost that comes from a single act.”
That’s why kindness is most beneficial as a practice—something we work into our daily routine, whether in the form of volunteer work, dropping coins into an expired parking meter, bringing a snack to share with your officemates, or holding the elevator for someone.
“The rewards of acts of kindness are many,” says Dr. IsHak. “They help us feel better, and they help those who receive them.”
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you,
along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:28-32
My heart AND my God tell me that the only way to truly change the world is through love and kindness!