Most of us have been taught that giving to others is a "good" thing to do. But, until recently, there's been little data to tell us why.
Recent research in psychology, neuroscience, and wellness has shed light on just how powerful a force kindness can be. Here are four ways kindness can change your life, and easy steps to incorporate it into your day-to-day.
1. It gives us a sense of purpose.
Studies show altruistic people are happier and more satisfied with their lives, and report a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
2. It staves off depression.
They have lower rates of depression, anxiety, stress, and mental illness, and even recover more effectively from substance abuse problems.
3. It improves your quality of life.
More energy, fewer aches and pains, increased life expectancy, and lower blood pressure have all been strongly linked to the practice of kindness.
4. It can even help keep you alive.
Volunteering has been shown to lower mortality rates by 44%. That's more than regular exercise (30%), or religious activities (29%). It has almost as much of an impact on overall physical health and longevity as quitting smoking.
How to boost your kindness quotient.
Start small. Donate blood, volunteer at a local agency, help paint a friend’s house, feed a stranger’s expired parking meter, or bring coffee to work for a colleague.
Next week, choose a day as your “day of kindness,” and commit to performing five acts of kindness that day. Repeat the pattern for a month, keeping track of your kind acts, and how they make you feel, in a journal.
Good luck, and may you find even greater happiness and health through the power of kindness.