Mankind Can Be Unkind
The following probably flies in the face of reasoning- at least the way we have been taught to reason- but, I’m going to say it anyway. If you want to be change the world and truly give something to others and yourself, be kind. It’s that simple. Kindness has a powerful and healing effect on everyone and everything and, as we will see, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. But we don’t learn this and it certainly isn’t supported in our politics, business and interpersonal relationships. However, that doesn’t keep it from being true.
For centuries we have been taught that in order to survive, we had to find a way to come out on top. We had to kill or be killed- a built-in primal fear instinct meant to save our lives. That’s a useful system when you are fighting a T-Rex or a lion. Somewhere along the line, though, throughout the centuries, we altered the usefulness of this primeval reflex and applied it to everyday life. Our point of view shifted from basic survival to I, me and mine as we were conditioned to believe that the more we have the more we are, which in itself is an untrue statement and a fear-driven perspective.
Greed, fear-based power and self-centeredness took the place of a sense of community, working for the greater good of all, common courtesy and kindness. We have, in fact, become unkind. We are unkind to the planet, animals and other inhabitants, each other and ourselves. It’s not that there isn’t kindness in the world- there is in a lot of ways. But, what I am talking about here is how we live everyday life wrapped up in the fear and the lack that exists only in our minds. This is where we have left kindness out of the equation. However, with a fresh awareness of our current situation and a conscious choice to shift back to kindness, we can reconnect with each other, the planet and ourselves.
The Health Benefits of Kindness
The number one benefit of being kind to others is that we feel the kindness in ourselves. That is a gift that keeps on giving. When we are express a true act of kindness rather than being kind just to get something in return or because we think we have to, we gain a number of health benefits, too.
Natural High – – Based on findings set forth in the book Why Kindness is Good for You by David R. Hamilton, PhD, kindness, on a biochemical level , elevates the brain’s natural versions of morphine and heroin (known as endogenous opioids, if you are interested). These cause elevated levels of dopamine in the brain that produces a natural high. This is thought to be the reason we feel so good when we are kind to others.
Heart Healthy — Kindness also helps keep our heart healthy. There is a direct mind-body link for every emotion we experience and express since all emotions trigger an electro-chemical response in the body. According to Dr. Candace Pert, scientific director of RAPID Pharmaceuticals and featured in the film What the Bleep Do We Know, “Emotions are not simply chemicals in the brain. They are electrochemical signals that affect the chemistry and electricity of every cell in the body. The body’s electrical state is modulated by emotions, changing the world within the body.” Dr. Pert finds that these emotional states, in turn, affect the world outside the body.
When we are kind and feel all warm and fuzzy, the body produces the hormone oxytocin in the brain and throughout the body. The research of late has shown oxytocin plays a significant role in cardiovascular system health. Oxytocin causes the release of the chemical nitric oxide in the blood vessels which expands the blood vessels. This lowers blood pressure and that is good for the heart.
Slows Aging- Free radicals and inflammation are by-products of unhealthy lifestyle choices and stress and play a major role in heart disease. These, among many other things, speed the process of aging. Research has shown, however, that oxytocin, released when we are kind, reduces the levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system. So, not only does this keep your heart in good condition, kindness helps slow the aging process.
Kindness- Far-reaching Effects
It is impossible to be kind and greedy at the same time. The same holds true for fear-based power and an egocentric stance. This is because the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is not effective, by the way. So, when we focus on kindness, a new habit is formed (being kind) and an old one is dissolved (being unkind).
Interestingly, kindness is one of the antidotes for loneliness, greed, anger, hate and fear. Making kindness a key part of your day will certainly change your life for the better.
Kindness also improves our relationships as it bonds people and makes us feel more connected with each other. Kindness can evoke feelings of compassion and understanding. All of these bring us closer and allow us to solidify current relationships and establish new ones, closing the gap of distance between all inhabitants on Earth. Being connected is, in fact, our natural state.
Did you know that kindness is contagious? No unhealthy side effects here. When we’re kind, we inspire others to be kind. It’s that simple. The film Pay It Forward exemplified this phenomenon. Additionally, a recent scientific study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that an anonymous 28-year-old person walked into a clinic and donated a kidney. This set off a “pay it forward” effect where the spouses or other family members of recipients of a kidney donated one of theirs to someone else in need. This single act of kindness was felt all over America where 10 people received a new kidney as a result of that initial anonymous donor. Kindness is a positive, powerful force.
Our challenge is to be kind when we think there is a good reason not to be. But, the fact is, there is no good reason not to be kind to another. Remember that we are all suffering from mental conditioning that tells us we are not good enough. Every person you see that you think does not deserve kindness is the one who deserves it from you even more.
Starting today, open your heart and give kindness freely to everyone you meet. Make kindness a habit. See how many smiles you can create and how many warm fuzzy feelings you can experience. It will be good for your health and bring you more happiness. It’s an easy gift to give and it does keep on giving.