Being kind not only helps others, but also yourself

One kind word can warm three winter months: This Japanese proverb resonates strongly within the global context of the Covid-19 pandemic, terrorism and election drama in the United States.

With World Kindness Day having been marked on Nov 13, let’s remember that a simple act of kindness can have positive effects not only on its recipient, but also on its giver. So what do you have to lose?

Many studies conducted in the past have showcased the effects of good deeds, empathy and altruism on different types of stress.

A recent study on the subject, published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, showed a direct link between prosocial behaviour and well-being.

A team of researchers performed a meta-analysis of 201 studies comprising 198,213 participants in total.

They concluded that there is a direct association between better physical and mental health, and prosocial behaviour.

However, there are certain disparities depending on the deed.

Random acts of kindness, like helping your elderly neighbour carry his or her groceries conveyed more well-being than scheduled volunteering for a charity.

But that doesn’t mean that you should quit doing the latter!

“Prosocial behaviour – altruism, cooperation, trust and compassion – are all necessary ingredients of a harmonious and well-functioning society.

“It is part of the shared culture of humankind and our analysis shows that it also contributes to mental and physical health, ” said lead author and University of Hong Kong assistant professor Bryant P.H. Hui.

If kindness is first and foremost selfless, then as long as it is spontaneous and altruistic, it can also contribute to the giver’s own good and boost his or her health.

Last year, researchers founded the Bedari Kindness Institute as part of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Its main goal is to help the public and to inspire leaders towards more kindness to build more humane societies.

“In the midst of current world politics, violence and strife, the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute seeks to be an antidote, ” said UCLA social sciences division dean Darnell Hunt in an announcement about its launch.

One of the many benefits of kindness extolled by this institute is the fact that it prolongs life.

Benevolence could have positive effects on blood pressure and the immune system.

Scientists have noted that the reverse was also true. Being treated with contempt or indifference can shorten our life expectancy.

Good deeds therefore have positive effects for both giver and receiver.

And if you need more proof to adopt such behaviour, know that altruism, compassion and benevolence can also help fight depression and boost self-esteem. — AFP Relaxnews

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