Being kind-hearted can bring several benefits to your physical, emotional, and mental health. Here’s how being kinder can help you become healthier.
9 Ways Being Kind-Hearted Leads to a Richer and Healthier Life
1. Thoughts and Acts of Kindness Can Make You Happier
Kindness for kindness’ sake is often underappreciated. By being kinder, it benefits yourself, even without the recognition or validation of your kindness.
“Helper’s high” is a term psychologists coined for the phenomenon when one’s endorphin levels in the brain increase after doing something charitable. In simpler terms, doing something kind makes you happier.
2. Being Kind Literally Makes Your Heart Stronger
Research has also discovered a link between kindness and a healthy heart.
According to Dr. David Hamilton, doing something kind can encourage the production of oxytocin. This hormone is considered a “cardioprotective hormone” since it can lower blood pressure, which is good for the heart.
3. Kindness Can Treat Physical and Mental Health Conditions
By encouraging the production of endorphin and oxytocin, being kind-hearted can help one’s mental and physical health. This is why the scientific evidence behind acts of kindness are also being studied for the potential treatment of certain health conditions:
- Mindfulness meditation, which involves acknowledging gratitude and acts of kindness, is being used to treat mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
- Being kind-hearted also boosts the production of substance P, a chemical similar to endorphin, which offers pain relief.
4. Being Kind to Oneself Can Help Diabetics Take Charge of their Condition
According to a study from the University of Auckland, being kind to oneself can help diabetics manage their condition. Learning how to be kinder to oneself and accepting the disease can reduce both the psychological and biological effects of diabetes.
In the study, participants with Type 1 and 2 diabetes were asked to participate in “mindfulness training in self-compassion.” They learned techniques on how to deal with the struggles of their disease more positively.
Here were some of the study’s findings after eight and 12 weeks:
- Self-compassion increased in the participants. Meanwhile, symptoms of depression and distress decreased.
- Blood sugar levels also decreased by 1%.
5. Being Kind Strengthens Social Bonds
Having good relationships and positive social interactions can boost your mood, but not everyone has the gift of gab or has mastered the art of charm that makes interactions easier.
If you want to easily form a connection with others, try to be kinder. Kindness is a universally-accepted trait that can make people feel more at ease with you.
6. Kindness Can Encourage Good Habits, Such as Meditation
If you’re seeking to be more kind-hearted, you can try the Loving-Kindness Meditation (LKM). This practice brings several benefits, including:
- Reduced pain from migraines and head tension
- Lower risk for or fewer symptoms of depression
- Improves memory
How can you do the loving-kindness meditation?
- Find a place where you’re comfortable and free from any distractions.
- Try to remember or imagine events, memories, or people that make you feel better.
- Give yourself self-affirmation. You can do this by reminding yourself of your past achievements and your future goals, as well as complimenting yourself.
7. Being Kind Can Help You Live Longer
According to a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine, certain personality traits may be linked to a longer life. These traits, which are typical to kind-hearted people, are optimism and conscientiousness.
According to the study, people who possess these traits are more likely to adopt healthy habits. These habits are what contribute to their longevity.
8. Kind-Hearted People Inspire Others to Be Kind, Too
Kindness can be contagious, which is another reason why the world needs more kind-hearted people. If you want to see kindness in the world, start with yourself so you can inspire others around you to be kind-hearted, too.
In a study from Stanford University, researchers gave the participants a $1 bonus after completing the study. They then showed the participants information about several charities, and let them decide if they wanted to give away their $1 bonus for charity.
After donating, the researchers provided them with data about the donations of the last 100 people before them.
- Some participants saw data where people generously donated 75% of their bonus to charity.
- Others saw data that led them to believe the previous people were stingy since they just donated around 25% of their bonus.
The participants in the first group, or those who believe they live in a generous world, were found to have become generous as well. In a follow-up test where they wrote to a pen pal, this group also provided more positive and kinder messages.
9. Kind-Hearted People Experience Less Stress
According to a study conducted by Yale and UCLA researchers, doing small acts of kindness daily can boost one’s mood and help them deal with stress more positively. During the study, the participants tested how doing small acts of kindness affected a person’s stress level.
To gauge the participant’s stress level, the researchers had them take note of any stressful situations they encountered that day. The participants also had to report any acts of kindness for the day, such as lending something of value to someone in need.
From there, the researchers asked them to rate their mental health from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best. The study found that people who did at least one king thing during the day reported feeling more positive than those who didn’t.
How to be More Kind-Hearted: Small Steps You Can Take to Become Kinder
Find the Discipline to Say No to Bad Habits
Sometimes, people are unkind not because they’re evil but because they can’t shake off their bad habits. These bad habits may hurt not only themselves but others as well.
To stop these bad habits, people need to find the discipline to say no.
For example, if you tend to hurt people with your frankness, try thinking about how what you’re going to say comes across to others. If you’ve already said something you regret, sincerely apologize to the other person.
The next time you’re unsure if what you’re going to say can hurt someone more than it can benefit them, think first before speaking.
You don’t need to save the world just yet. Start small — within your community, workplace, or home.
For example, if there’s someone who needs support, just be there for them. Spend some time and effort into actually being there for that person during their time of need.
If there’s something you no longer want or need, somebody out there will probably find value in it. It can even save their life or show them a new purpose in life.
Not sure where to start? Check out donation options for The Salvation Army.
Envy can kill kindness in one’s heart. To stop yourself from getting too envious, acknowledge all the good in your life.
Gratitude can help someone realize that, while others may have something they want, they, too, already have a lot to be thankful for. If you’re finding yourself getting green with jealousy, stop and remind yourself of all the good there is in your life.
Kindness can make the world better and stronger. Cultivating a kind heart means enriching yourself and others with memories and bonds that money can’t buy.
Who’s the most kind-hearted person that you know? Describe her/him in the comments section below.
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