Speeding back home after work one stormy night, Rita noticed a vehicle trailing close behind hers. As different thoughts crossed her mind, she suddenly heard her tire blow. She quickly pulled over to the side and so did this vehicle right behind her. Before she knew, a young man jumped off that car and got to change the flat tyre. “I was going to get off two miles back, but I didn’t think that tyre looked good”, the man said, after he was done and quickly turned to head back to his family in that threatening weather. “What was I thinking as I kept my eyes on the rear mirror while he kept his eyes on me” said Rita to her family as she got home safe.
Growing up we have been taught of kindness being a virtue and how it contributes to the universal good. Acknowledging that others matter, that their needs are important and acting upon it makes life meaningful; this has been the premise for kindness. Being instinctual at reaching out, helping someone, getting someone out of harm’s way, comes across as reflexes many a time, however kindness is surely something that can be both innate and learned.
Being ‘Other-centred’ has proven to be a benefit for our overall well-being. It increases our moods, brings satisfaction in our relationships, lowers social avoidance and helps us maintain or improve our physical health too. When we do something out of the ordinary for someone, it boosts our happiness quotient. Psychological studies show that when we deliberately engage in acts of kindness, our subjective happiness increases. It helps generate good mental health and psychological wellbeing; and why so?
Research suggests that acts of kindness make us feel better with a rise in the Oxytocin level, which gets us to trust more, be friendly and more giving. Dopamine a feel good brain chemical is also released during acts of kindness and causes a feeling of what is referred to as “the helper’s high”. Serotonin a neurotransmitter, which is a mood regulator increases too. Another recent study mentions, helping others increases levels of an Endorphin-like chemical in the body, which supposedly helps relieve pain.
Kindness and mental health are linked; acts of kindness are always rewarding and self-fulfilling. By being kind we tend to derive the pleasure of being useful, worthy and getting others drawn to us too. What needs to be watched is making sure that there are no self-interests like expecting external rewards and giving to get back.
“Kindness makes a fellow feel good whether it’s being done to him or by him”. – Frank A. Clark
The more we make others happy the more our own happiness increases.
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AUTHOR: Portia, Lead Counsellor
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