Words Jeannie Croucher
With the chaotic, fast-paced world that many of us live in today, and its constant demands from home, work and school, it can be all too easy for us to focus on our own pressures without considering the needs of others. World and local news sources often focus on negative stories which can make us somewhat despair at the apparent lack of human kindness and the suffering and pain that our fellow humans can inflict on each other.
However, every now and then a story appears which puts a smile on our faces and provides an inner sense of warmth. These stories very often involve an act of kindness, possibly between two strangers, for no obvious reason except for a wish on the giver’s part to assist a person in need.
But what is not widely acknowledged is that an act of kindness is not only hugely beneficial to the receiver but it can also bestow great benefits on the giver. The concept of the ‘helpers’ high’ is now recognised as being an important element of wellbeing as it increases the production of serotonin, which is commonly known as the ‘happy chemical’ that provides healing and calming feelings.
This is not a fallacy emanating from those of a particular religious faith, or people who are genuinely decent with a strong moral sense of right and wrong, but is backed up by years of scientific research. Of course, we all know that one should not even consider hopping on the kindness train just for the physical and psychological benefits that may be gleaned, but it is inspiring to realise that being pro-social not only feels good, but also does us good.
Let’s delve a little further into how showing a little kindness can be a win-win situation for all concerned.
Kindness reduces stress
When we engage in acts of kindness towards others, we are essentially getting out of ourselves and away from the stressors in our own lives. Taking a break from our own problems and choosing to take the time to offer help to others can have a positive impact on our emotions. An extra benefit to this is that it helps to build and strengthen our relationships with each other.