The power of kindness


“Kind people are the best kind of people” - Anonymous

WHAT does it cost to be kind to others?

We often think that being kind costs us something — whether it is time, money, connections or any of what we consider to be our personal resources becoming depleted.

But have we ever thought at all about the physical and psychological benefits of acts of kindness that flow right back to us? It’s one of those mysteries of the amazing human body.

Recent medical studies indicate that both the giving and receiving of kindness have positive effects on a person’s well being. It helps produce oxytocin, a naturally occurring hormone in the human body that boosts our immune system and causes other good residual effects on blood pressure and the body’s general homeostatic balance. In women, it has positive effects on childbirth and lactation. Studies now seem to prove that it can help in autism and the ability to handle social anxieties.

This feel-good substance is produced in the human body by laughter and exercise and apparently, as medical studies are showing, also by acts of kindness, specially the pure ones, those that are done without any thought of payback or return.

Oxytocin running in our bloodstream is good for the heart and the mind as it counteracts the effects of free radicals wreaking havoc in our bodies as we go through the ravages of the aging process. It does not mean however, that kindness and the oxytocin it produces insures us against aging. All humans will get old and die eventually. C’est la vie.

It just means that the residual effects of habitual kindness can substantially slow down the aging process along with a good diet, and regular age -appropriate exercise.

Of course, wisely steering clear of moving vehicles, toxic relationships and such known elective, addictive poisons such as cigarette smoking, drugs and alcohol all help to arrive at a high quality of life in one’s sunset years.

In the same way joy shows in our faces, so does grief. Perhaps, the latter, even more so, can become deeply etched. No amount of plastic surgery can erase it.

During the greed of the nineteen eighties and nineties that spawned such film characters as Gordon Gecko, the saying was, “He who has the most TOYS, WINS!”

In contrast, during  this current supposedly more informed  yet not necessarily wiser age of information, the saying is likely to read. “He who has the most JOYS, WINS!

Those of us who live in big cities and are subject to the stresses of the fast pace and killer demands of modern life to “perform and deliver” in our home and work environments are more than likely to suffer from diseases and infections.  It’s the curse of big city living and the rat race.

Because of such demands that can exceed individual human capacities, many feel exhausted and cannot think beyond their personal needs and wants.

Remember too that this is the “Selfies Generation.”  The trend these days in social media is to focus on the self. Many are becoming stars in their deluded minds and in the web firmament thinking that the number of “likes” they get is proof positive of their popularity and social status.

The result is that many are becoming hardwired and focused on just their individual images to the exclusion of others. This self-obsession—today’s equivalent of the biblical golden calf of idolatry—strangely leads to depression.

Those who have seen the light, however, and have decided that kindness is beneficial to others as well as themselves, practice it quite naturally, most times, without fanfare. After all, genuine kindness is often quiet and does not need to go viral.

But when acts of kindness captured on video do go viral because a disinterested third party uploaded the clip on the internet and is viewed by millions around the world, this becomes a teachable moment when kindness can become a ripple in a pond.

Kindness without an agenda can inspire others to be kind to the people in their immediate spheres of influence. It can inspire some to be kind to those that orbit around them daily at home and at work. You could say that kindness, like the flu, is truly contagious. Unlike the flu virus though, kindness is good all around.

A caveat though…… The hormone oxytocin is not a panacea for all kinds of social anxiety problems. Too much of it when taken by prescription, like any other substance on earth taken to extremes, can cause ordinary people to become oversensitive to the emotions of others resulting in a skewed perception of reality.

Perhaps, the best ways for this love hormone to flow in one’s bloodstream are still the natural ways through LAUGHTER, EXERCISE and KINDNESS.

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail monette.maglaya@asianjournalinc.com

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