The 5 side effects of kindness

Last week I discovered a book that I really enjoyed, called The 5 side effects of kindness, by Dr David Hamilton. This book shows how kindness alters the brain, improves the cardiovascular system, is an antidote for depression and slows aging! Being kind doesn’t need to involve doing big huge things, but rather be kind on purpose with genuine good intention (you cannot get the benefits of kindness unless you actually mean it), do a large number of small acts of kindness and this will generate the benefits.

The 5 Side Effects

  • Makes us happier – You feel good when you help someone, used to be called “helpers high”. When you practice kindness consistently it has an effect on your emotional wellbeing and you just feel happier overall, regardless of what age you are.1,2,3
  • Is good for the heart   Being kind produces what Dr Hamilton calls the “molecules of kindness”, oxytocin and nitric oxide (NO), which have both been shown to be cardio protective i.e. they prevent cardiovascular disease. NO helps dilate the blood vessels reducing blood pressure, helps regulate blood cholesterol, stops the formation of blood clots, prevents and reverses the build up of arterial plaques. Oxytocin is anti-inflammatory, stimulates angiogenesis (formation of new blood cells) and cardic healing.4,5,6
  • Slows ageing  – Kindness slows the processes of aging, one being the gradual weakening of the immune system, and another being wrinkling (through oxidative stress from free radicals in the skin). Here again oxytocin produced by how you feel through kindness, love and compassion helps slow this process as it is an anti-oxidant.4,6
  • Improves relationships – Most people like people who are kind to you and help you and studies show that outside of love itself the glue that hold relationships together is kindness.7,8
  • Is contagious – Ripple effect of kindness, someone does something kind for you it makes you feel good or what scientists term ‘elevated’ and when you are in this elevated state you are more likely to do something kind for someone else, in fact studies show that you are liking to be kinder to all you meet that day and they in turn are kinder to others. 9,6

Excerpt from the book

Every act of kindness matters. It matters to the people we help.

Some argue that being kind is selfish if we know we benefit from it. This issue will always be present. But we must not let the debate dissuade us from being kind. Regardless of any reasons, kindness makes a difference.

And in the moment of kindness, something takes over. It is the spirit of kindness. It warms our hearts and minds. It lifts us.

Kindness is bigger than our reasons for being kind. It is bigger than our debates, bigger than our philosophies, bigger even than our religions. Kindness is universal.

As Mark Twain wrote, “Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see”

Watch below a really good Ted talk from Dr Hamilton about kindness

Challenge for the upcoming week!

David recently posted a challenge for everyone which I am going to be taking this week, if you want to join me here are the details:

The rules:

  1.  You must do something different every day. You can do the same thing on two different days if you want, but it only counts the first time.
  2.  You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone at least once. In other words, you have to do an act of kindness that stretches you a bit.
  3. At least one of your acts of kindness must be completely anonymous. No one must know that it was you who did it, or what you did. You can’t tell anyone about it.

And remember, you don’t have to do big things to make a difference. It’s the small things in large numbers that matter most because opportunities for these arise every day.

Your naturopath
Denise

References

  1. Hamilton, D. R. (2017).The Five Side-effects of Kindness: This Book Will Make You Feel Better, Be Happier & Live Longer.
  2. Filkowski, M. M., Cochran, R. N., & Haas, B. W. (2016). Altruistic behavior: mapping responses in the brain. Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics5, 65–75. http://doi.org/10.2147/NAN.S87718
  3. Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: a counting kindnesses intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(3), 361–375. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-005-3650-z
  4. Gutkowska, J., Jankowski, M., & Antunes-Rodrigues, J. (2014). The role of oxytocin in cardiovascular regulation. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research47(3), 206–214. http://doi.org/10.1590/1414-431X20133309
  5. Zhang, Y. H. (2017). Nitric oxide signalling and neuronal nitric oxide synthase in the heart under stress. F1000Research6, 742. http://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.10128.1
  6. Erdman, S. E. (2016). Defining “good health.” Aging (Albany NY)8(12), 3157–3158. http://doi.org/10.18632/aging.101154
  7. Esch, T., & Stefano, G. B. (2011). The neurobiological link between compassion and love. Medical Science Monitor : International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research17(3), RA65–RA75. http://doi.org/10.12659/MSM.881441
  8. Smith, T. W., Uchino, B. N., MacKenzie, J., Hicks, A., Campo, R. A., Reblin, M., … Light, K. C. (2013). Effects of Couple Interactions and Relationship Quality on Plasma Oxytocin and Cardiovascular Reactivity: Empirical Findings and Methodological Considerations. International Journal of Psychophysiology : Official Journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology88(3), 271–281. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2012.04.006