The Joy of Kindness
When the heart is at ease, the body is healthy.
They say kindness is its own reward. And it’s absolutely true. Kindness has benefits for the one being kind, not only for the one receiving the kindness. For instance, did you know that studies have shown that being kind can increase our own self-esteem, empathy and compassion, and it also improves our mood.
Being kind can help decrease blood pressure and cortisol which is a stress hormone directly impacting stress levels. When we give of ourselves in a balanced way, we tend to be healthier and live longer lives.
“Kindness can increase your sense of connectivity with others, which can directly impact loneliness, improve low mood, and enhance relationships in general. It also can be contagious. Looking for ways to show kindness can give you a focus activity, especially if you tend to be anxious or stressed in some social situations,” says Steve Siegle, Licensed Professional Counselor.
Mr. Siegle also says that physiologically, kindness can positively change our brain. What happens to our brain when we are kind? There is a boost in serotonin and dopamine, which are the neurotransmitters in the brain that give the feeling of satisfaction and well-being. Endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers, can also be released.
We can build bridges through kindness. When we recognize times when there is inequality, injustice, discrimination or hatred, there is the possibility to make great strides to understanding others by simply offering a helping hand whenever we are able.
Many years ago, there was a horse that lived among the sage and piñon trees in a fenced area near our home. She wandered about day after day, and I sensed her loneliness. One day when I was passing by, I remembered to bring an apple thinking perhaps she might enjoy it. I stood by the fence and began urging her to come over to me. When she reached me, I noticed she had some odd mannerisms, and discovered she was blind. I offered up the apple pieces in my open hand and she willingly ate it. I began to look forward to our encounters when I would walk by, and I was sure to bring her an apple. Such a small gesture, yet not only did it make her day a little less lonely and perhaps even lighter, I totally enjoyed every minute of her enthusiasm in munching the apple. It really made my heart happy.
We can clearly see the benefits of being kind to others, and it is important to remember to be kind to ourselves as well. Be aware of how you speak to yourself about yourself. If you find you are speaking inwardly or outwardly in an unkind way about yourself, stop, be kind to yourself, be compassionate to yourself. Kindness is also being patient, loving and kind to your own self. n