Kindness is Contagious
Updated: Mar 17
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
- Aesop, the ancient Greek storyteller
Hey there friends! You have likely heard me talk about happiness on my podcast and why it is vital to create intentional margins® for yourself. But what if you could create a quick intentional margin® that not only helps you but helps others as well? Today, I will share with you why kindness is contagious and how you can incorporate it as an intentional margin® into your life.
The Science of Kindness
Before we jump into kindness being contagious, I want to touch on the science of kindness. I am a firm believer that the proof is in the pudding, so I am going to share it with you with these three examples.
#1: Kindness is in Our Genetic Wiring
Studies have shown there are 15 levels or variants in the oxytocin receptor gene (remember, oxytocin is the hormone that promotes compassion, kindness, and empathy). These levels have lighter variants (kinder) and darker (less inclined to be kind.) What does this mean? This research shows us that kindness is in our genetic wiring.
#2: Acts of Kindness Boosts Happiness
The National Library of Medicine performed a 7-day experiment on how specific kindness activities affected happiness levels. They compared acts of kindness to strong social ties, weak social ties, novel acts of self-kindness, and observing acts of kindness against a control group with no acts.
The results indicated that performing kindness activities increased happiness, there wasn't a difference in who the act was performed to, and there was a correlation between the number of actions and the increase in happiness. This shows that acts or observance of kindness to yourself or something else (stranger or friend) boosted happiness.
#3: Performing Acts of Kindness Provides Physical, Emotional, and Mental Health Benefits
Studies have shown that performing a SINGLE act of kindness floods your body and the recipient’s body with feel-good hormones that make you calmer, happier, and healthier. They include:
Serotonin which heals wounds, increases calmness, and promotes relaxation
Endorphins which reduces pain
Oxytocin which reduces blood pressure
These same studies have also shown that performing acts of kindness can:
Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
Reduces aches and pains
Living longer, feeling better, and being more relaxed just from one little act a day! I don't think that it gets much better than that. So how can you spread kindness?
Kindness is Contagious
I know the word "contagious" gets a bad rap, but it is actually a good thing in this case. Dr. David R Hamilton is a kindness scientist, and he explains that one act of kindness can create 3 degrees of separation.
Now you may be thinking…a kindness scientist? Really, Katie? YES! This doc has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, has worked in R&D for the pharmaceutical industry, and has even developed drugs for cardiovascular disease. He is not a quack; I swear!
“3 degrees of separation,” what does that mean? It means that when you perform an act of kindness, the recipient is more likely to perform one to another person. Then that person is more likely to spread the love, and so on and so forth. It is like a ripple effect, where a single drop of kindness in the pond of life grows larger and larger.
Dr. Hamilton explains that kindness can be initiated in three different ways as well.
When someone is kind to you, you feel happier and are more likely to be kind to someone else.
When someone is kind to you, you feel relief. Stress can block natural actions of kindness, but kindness received can remove the stress and help pass on happiness feelings.
When someone is kind to you, you feel inspired and motivated by their kind actions (viewing it as something you SHOULD be doing). So, you do it too.
You (yes YOU!) have the power to initiate that kindness each and every day. By turning it into an Intentional Margin®, you can spread kindness and happiness in the world.
Intentional Margins® for Kindness
Do you want to make a difference in your day, someone else's day, and even more people beyond that? You can with just one simple act of kindness a day. You have learned the science and understand how kindness is contagious; now it is time to act.
My challenge to you is to create an Intentional Margin® for kindness and to do it every single day. It doesn't have to be anything big. It could be buying the stranger behind you a cup of coffee, it could be calling a loved one just to say hi, or it could be offering to help your elderly neighbor with some household chores. Whether it takes 5-minutes or an afternoon, you can spread kindness and happiness to make a positive difference in your life and theirs.
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