WHY BEING KIND IS GOOD FOR OUR HEALTH

A small act of kindness can go a long way as I found out last week.   

I was travelling to London to meet a client and as my train pulled into Euston station, I noticed a woman holding her ‘very upset’ little boy and at the same time, was struggling to manoeuvre a pushchair off the train.  I was surprised that no one was going to her aid.

So, when I moved forward and said “Here, let me help you with that” and reached for the pushchair, her face lit up and with the sound of relief she said “thank you so much”

As we stepped onto the platform, I stood with her for a few seconds to check she had everything before turning to leave and what she said next, blew me away.   “ I really appreciate what you just did, it’s so rare to get any help”   I smiled back at her and replied, “it’s my pleasure, i’m glad I was here to help you.”

Her words sat with me for a few moments and I thought how sad that it’s so rare to get any help.  Helping her felt really good and, it’s part of what makes us human.  In fact, contribution or helping others, meets one of our basic human needs.

It made me realise how during my travels with work, we can be so ‘in the zone,’ looking at our phones, reading the paper, talking to our friends or working on our laptops, and we can miss what is happening around us.

It seems strange to me that women travelling on public transport in London, need to wear a badge that says ‘baby on board.’   It’s even more surprising how, on a busy tube train, I see women standing wearing that badge and yet, individuals will be sitting there in their own worlds, not noticing a heavily pregnant woman standing and, don’t offer her their seat.

 

Compassion is not religious business.  It is human business.  It is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival
The Dalai Lama

 

Dr David Hamilton whose books titled  ‘Why kindness is good for you’ and ‘The 5 side effects of kindness’ shares the scientifically proven health benefits of kindness and how they can transform our lives.  As Carpe Vita is all about ‘seizing life’ I find myself being curious about how science backs up the reality of our experiences.

 

Kindness…

  • Make us happier

  • Is good for our heart

  • Slows ageing

  • Improves our relationships

  • Is contagious

David shares how studies have shown happiness not only leads to better health, but also to having more energy, a longer lifespan, a more satisfying social life and more confidence.  He goes on to say…

“Most people believe that these things are what make us happy, but most of the evidence suggests that it’s the other way around.  When we feel happy, these things come to us much more easily.”

He states how “kindness offers us some protection from the ageing process.  A 1990 study of 1,972 community-dwelling residents in California conducted by the Buck Institute for Age research, California, found that those who volunteered for two or more different organisations, who were labelled as high volunteers, had a 44% lower mortality rate than those who didn’t do any volunteering.”

So, doing a good deed for someone else, no matter how big or small or, a simple act of kindness without any expectation of receiving anything back, is a fantastic way to make you feel happier.

I know when I have undertaken volunteering work for charities close to my heart, I feel like I am making a difference which is an important factor for me. I believe making a difference is a fundamental requirement to seizing life.

  • Recall a moment you experienced an act of kindness from someone else?
  • What was that like for you?

If it felt good for you, make a decision today to be kind to someone else.  Something unexpected, a gesture that shows a friend or a stranger that you care.  For none of us know what their experiences have been.  Your ‘good will’ gesture could be the first to make a real difference to their lives. 

 

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