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The Science Behind Why Being Kind Feels So Good

Here are 6 ways being kind to others is actually good for us.

1. It helps us foster closer relationships

Friend in a bind? Lending a hand to a friend in need can strengthen your relationship.

Being kind gives us a chance to show someone that they mean something to us. It doesn’t matter how shallow or deep your relationship, being kind deepens it further.

2. Being kind is a natural anxiety antidote

In one study, college students who had scored high on a social anxiety assessment were separated into three groups.

Researchers asked one group to engage in three acts of kindness a day, two days a week, for four weeks. They asked mem­bers of the second group to simply try to be more social with people, and members of the third group to keep a diary of their social interactions. By performing random acts of kindness, members of the first group experi­enced positive interactions, decreasing their fear of negative interactions and their social anxiety overall.

3. Kindness leads to longevity

Research shows that social isolation leads to an increased risk of early mortality. The cor­relation is so strong that some researchers have compared isolation statistics with those associated with smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity. Conversely, when we make strong connections with others through ran­dom acts of kindness, we affirm our social relationships and increase our likelihood of survival by as much as 50 percent.

4. We are happier when we are nicer

Various studies have shown a direct connection between kindness, altruism and less depression. Quite simply, kind­ness makes us happy, and happiness makes us kind. In what experts believe to be a “kindness feedback loop” of sorts, the happier we feel about our past generosity, the more we are likely to give in the future. We are happier when we give to others than when we are when we give to ourselves.

5. It reduces stress

Witnessing or participating in acts of kindness produces oxytocin, the “love hormone.” Oxytocin lowers our blood pressure and improves our overall heart health. It also increases our self-es­teem and optimism. Additionally, being kind acts like a medical antidepressant in that it stimulates the production of serotonin, the feel-good chemical that calms us down.

6. We may be wired to be kind

Our good nature is something that’s ingrained in us from an early age. Studies show that some of us are born with certain genes that give us specific receptors to oxytocin and vasopressin,

Either way, it’s possible that being kind feels good because, from an early age, we’ve known that it’s the right thing to do.