Love may make the world go round, but during the turbulent times we are living in, what’s needed most is kindness. Theologian, musician, philosopher, and Nobel Prize-winning physician Dr. Albert Schweitzer said it best, “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate”
Unfortunately, massive doses of kindness taken as a shot to inject or a pill to swallow are not available. Rather, this quality of being friendly, generous and considerate must start from within. It’s all about treating others the same way you want to be treated. When you’re kind to yourself, you will find it much easier to be kind and considerate to friends, family, and complete strangers. Even those we disagree with.
As a physician, besides practicing medicine, I also make it a point to practice kindness every day. In fact, being kind actually has roots in improving your health. A very interesting study conducted in the late 1970’s, called the “rabbit effect,” found that rabbits with an affectionate caretaker, who petted and talked to them, had healthier hearts and fewer heart attacks. This same effect applies to people too. Little acts of kindness, whether given or received, can make a big difference in our lives. Kindness is not only the right thing to do, but can have an additional bonus of improving our health along the way:
Kindness improves you physiologically
Chronic stress is rarely considered a “good thing” for health promotion. In fact, stress is a known cause for increasing inflammation which can lead to various diseases. This is where kindness helps blunt that effect. Receiving or giving a compliment, goodwill gestures, or a simple smile, are all examples of kindness helping lower your inflammatory response.
Within you is the ability to choose and control your daily actions. Those who feel kindness from others regularly are much more likely to have positive vibes reverberating into positive vibes for others.
Kindness makes you feel happier
Happiness may be an elusive stranger but according to research, when you practice those random acts of kindness to those you know and to strangers, has the ability to boost your happy quota. Designed to test whether performing different types of kindness activities had differential effects on happiness, the study found that practicing kindness activities for seven days increased happiness leading to better health overall.
Kindness is good for your health
Do you want to buffer the aging process? Reduce worry, fear, and stress, all age accelerators, by being more kind. If you want to move forward remaining hopeful for your future, kindness must be a part of that plan. The age-proofing process of kindness is attributed to the hormone oxytocin. Simple acts of kindness practiced daily releases this hormone helping to trigger a release a chemical called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide dilutes blood cells helping shrink inflammation which in turn lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
Kindness improves relationships with others
Daily interactions with family, friends, co-workers, or strangers, are an opportunity to improve those interplay with others. Each of those encounters, lasting a few seconds to several hours, is a chance to show kindness creating a bond of solidarity that helps lighten the mood and illustrates a spirit of generosity. When people feel you’ve taken the time to throw kindness towards them, this not only improves those relationships, but also sets a good example of how we should treat one another.
Kindness gives you and others hope
If you have the ability to envision a better future for yourself, you have hope. To have hope means you also have the ability to be kind to yourself and others. One example of having little hope is when someone feels all alone in the world. Kindness helps others feel less alone by showing compassion and instilling faith. And when people have hope, they are more likely to pass on kindness towards others, creating happier, hopeful, and healthier individuals and communities.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.