“Kindness is like sugar, it makes life taste a little sweeter.” Carla Yerovi
Modern research shows that kindness, one of the most pleasurable of all human acts is also one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and for others.
The benefits of kindness have been discussed throughout written history.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
“Kindness in words creates confidence, kindness in thinking creates profoundness, kindness in feeling creates love.” –Lao-Tzu
“That best portion of a good man’s life, is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” – William Wordsworth
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”" –Martin Luther King, Jr.
David McClelland, a professor of psychology formerly at Harvard and now at Boston University, began researching how people could improve the functioning of their own immune system in the 1970s. As part of this research, he showed movies of Mother Teresa helping babies to his students at Harvard to see if a film could transmit feelings of caring and loving, and then see if that experience had positive effects on the immune system. It did.
McClelland verified this by measuring the amount of immunoglobulin A (part of the body’s defense against cold viruses) in saliva, which increased in students watching the film, regardless of whether or not they claimed to admire Mother Teresa’s work.
The best-known study regarding the importance to health of a spiritual lifestyle was reported by psychiatrist George Vaillant in his book, Adaptation to Life, which was based on a 30-year study of a group of Harvard graduates. Vaillant concluded that adopting an altruistic lifestyle is a critical component of mental health.
When we do kind things for others, our body rewards us by releasing powerful chemicals (endorphins) which make us feel good.
Kindness is a stress-reducing behavior. It can reverse feelings of depression, supply social contact, and decrease feelings of hostility and isolation that can cause stress. It is regular, small acts of kindness that off-set and help to buffer us from the daily stress of life.
The pleasure that results from random acts of kindness is real and may help to reduce pain messages from all sorts of ailments, like arthritis or headache pain.
Acts of kindness take our minds off our own problems and increase our sense of self worth.
The health benefits and sense of well-being return for hours, days and sometimes for a lifetime whenever the helping act is remembered.
In the book Meaning & Medicine, (Bantam Books, 1991) author Dr Larry Dossey tells us, “Altruism behaves like a miracle drug, and a strange one at that. It has beneficial effects on the person doing the helping – the helper’s high; it benefits the person to whom the help is directed; and it can stimulate healthy responses in persons at a distance who may view it only obliquely.”
In his book, The Healing Power of Doing Good, Allan Luks states, “It is not necessary to wait until you have an opportunity to donate a kidney or save the whole world to enjoy this good feeling. A small effort to help one person can create these same feelings and attitudes.”
Quoting the words of scientist George Washington Carver to close this article: “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”
Anyone living in or visiting Dominica has been or will be on the receiving end of many acts of kindness. People will enthusiastically help you find your way; make sure you are dressed properly; assist you with car troubles; offer a ride; offer a glass of water; or share their food – they often say that is how they were raised!
Dominica is a kind and gentle country in many ways – part of the health and wellness attributes of the island!