[COLUMN] The power of kindness

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.

Being kind does not diminish us. On the contrary, it adds a certain glow to our persona. We become conduits or pipelines of that continuous downpour of silent, mostly invisible graces from above.

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 and of life itself.

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.

Another feel-good substance called endorphins is produced in the human body by laughter and exercise. Acts of kindness, specially the pure ones, those that are done without an agenda, any thought of payback or return, can produce the substance as well.

Endorphins 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 endorphins insure us against aging. It just means that we can be happy and perhaps, even content over the long haul.

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 cigarettes, drugs and alcohol can enhance the quality of one’s life. One should steer clear of vanity-based, habitual body enhancements like plastic surgery, botox and specially tattoos. These indicate destructive self-obsession that disables a person from showing kindness to others.

In the same way joy shows in our faces specially in our eyes, so does GRIEF. Sorrow and pain can become deeply etched and alas, no amount of plastic surgery can erase it.

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 technological age has spawned 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 laser 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 and inadvertently, to themselves, practice it quite naturally, most times, without fanfare. After all, genuine kindness is often quiet.

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 gets amplified with the ripple effect.

Kindness without an agenda can inspire others to be kind to the people in their immediate spheres of influence. Kindness, like the coronavirus, can be truly contagious. Unlike this deadly strain though, kindness like God’s sunlight is good all around.

Go natural whenever possible. LAUGHTER, EXERCISE and KINDNESS, often at little or no cost, can go a long way in achieving that wonderful state of “happily ever after.”

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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