Am I saying that being nice will lead to health, wealth and happiness? Well, no. I’m not saying it. Science is.
Dr. Hamilton sums up The Five Side Effects of Kindness here: http://drdavidhamilton.com/the-5-side-effects-of-kindness/
He claims the five side effects are that we are:
1.) We are happier: This isn’t simply at a feel good level. It gets physical. Studies show that doing acts of kindness raises our levels of endogenous opioids. If “endogenous opioids” doesn’t mean too much to you, let’s just say these are the natural versions of morphine and heroin produced by your brain. These opioids lead to elevated levels of dopamine which causes a natural high.
2.) Healthier hearts: This isn’t the paper cutout type heart either. Acts of kindness actually release oxytocin. This starts a process that leads to expanding blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. Sure time on the treadmill helps but helping that little old lady cross the road helps as well.
3.) Slows aging: Oxytocin also lowers levels of free radicals and inflammation, two factors that lead to aging. What would you rather do, a kind deed or eat a cup of kale? Compared to kale, putting out a little extra effort to be kind doesn’t seem so bad after all.
4.) Improves relationships: Well duh. Being kind to people improves your relationship with them. When relationships are stronger, people work harder for each other and they are more productive. People also go out of their way to promote kind people. From my own life, I can testify to this. A co-worker and I were presenting to our boss’s boss. The co-worker and I got along but didn’t normally associate with each other. I went out of my way to be sure that our boss’s boss understood how hard my co-worker was and how important his efforts were to my successes. At our next several meetings, my co-worker went out of his way to make sure the executives understood that MY EFFORTS were important part of his successes.
5.) It is contagious: People are more kind when they witness kindness. Kindness does pay forward. Acts both small and large cause others to be kind. Those people do acts of kindness to others and so on and so on.
It is important to do these acts of kindness simply for the act of kindness. Don’t expect others to pay you back. Don’t expect recognition. Simply be nice, feel good and let kindness work for you.
So what acts of kindness have you done recently? How did it make you feel?