From boosting your mood to lowering stress, the power of kindness is real. In fact, science shows the benefits of being kind are greater for the giver than the receiver. So, as Calvin Holbrook suggests, help others and help yourself, too.

Can you remember the last time a stranger was kind to you? Maybe someone held a door open or offered you help with directions in the street? Or, perhaps you can recall the last time you helped somebody. After recently carrying out a few altruistic acts myself, I wanted to find out more about the power and benefits of kindness

Just before Christmas I passed a homeless man sitting outside a London Tube station. Coming out of a nearby coffee shop after paying almost £3 for a flat white, I couldn’t justify spending that on a hot drink while he was sat with nothing.



I started a conversation to find out how he was doing and he was thankful when I offered him some change and a banana. However, he seemed most grateful when I simply asked him what his name was. When I got up to leave, he looked directly into my eyes and gave me a genuine ‘thank you.’

Later that week, I spotted an elderly lady hauling a huge suitcase down some stairs – she was clearly struggling. Her face lit up with joy when I offered a hand. She was clearly touched someone had made the effort to assist, and I too walked away with a spring in my step and smile on my face. 


The power of kindness: a ripple effect

In these examples the power of kindness is obvious for the recipient: they were in a moment of need and received assistance. But the power of altruism also extended to me – in fact, one major benefit of kindness is that the love spreads both ways; it’s a win-win situation.

A positive sign: showing kindness is easy and free


After connecting with these people I felt a sense of happiness and pride to know I'd made a small but meaningful impact on their day. In fact, this feel-good sensation stayed with me for hours afterwards. Experiencing this feeling has also made it more likely that I'll carry out more random acts of kindness in the future. 

Likewise, I like to think that the power of kindness can potentially rub off on the people you'll help out in the future, so that they, in turn, will be more likely to assist others. In fact, it turns out that science backs up this kindness 'ripple effect'. 


“The power of kindness can potentially rub off on other people you'll help out in the future, so that they, in turn, will be more likely to assist other.”


A 2018 study focused on employees at a Spanish company. Workers were asked to either a) perform acts of kindness for colleagues, or b) count the number of kind acts they received from coworkers. The results showed that those who received acts of kindness became happier, demonstrating the value of benevolence for the receiver.

However, those who delivered the acts of kindness benefited even more than the receivers. That’s because not only did they show a similar trend towards increased happiness, but they also had an boost in life and job satisfaction, as well as a decrease in depression.

Furthermore, the effects of altruism were contagious. Those colleagues on the receiving end of the acts of kindness ended up spontaneously paying it forward, themselves doing nice things for other colleagues. This study suggests the ripple effect really is one of the benefits of being nice.


Kindness and psychological flourishing

Further studies back up the power of kindness. In another, researchers asked members of the public to either perform acts of kindness – such as opening doors for strangers – for one month, or to perform kind acts for themselves, such as treating themselves to a new purchase. 

The researchers measured the participants’ level of so-called ‘psychological flourishing’ – their emotional, psychological, and social well-being at the start and end of the experiment. By the end, those who had carried out kind acts for others had higher levels of psychological flourishing compared to those who acted kindly towards themselves. Kindly acts also led to higher levels of positive emotions.




Meanwhile, another study incorporated cold hard cash to test the powers of altruism. Researchers gave participants either $5 or $20 which they had to spend on themselves or others before the end of the day. They measured the participants’ happiness levels before giving them the money and then called them on the phone in the evening. The results? Those who had spent the money on others were happier than those who'd used the money for their own needs.


The physical effects of kindness

So, science shows that being kind and helpful clearly has a positive and uplifting effect on those carrying out the act. But what exactly is happening in the body? Here are four ways keys in which the physical benefits of kindness can be felt:


1. Kindness releases feel-good hormones

When you do kinds acts for other people, so-called happiness hormones are released, boosting your serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being and satisfaction. Endorphin levels also rise, leading to a phenomenon known as a 'helper’s high'.


2. Kindness can reduce anxiety

Another physical benefit of kindness is that it can help to lower anxiety. Social anxiety is associated with low positive affect (PA), which relates to an individual’s experience of positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness. A four-week study on happiness from the University of British Columbia found that participants who engaged in kind acts displayed major increases in their PA levels that were maintained during the study duration. 

benefits-of-kindness-help-power.jpgGood to give: kindness benefits both the giver and receiver


3. Kindness may help alleviate certain illness

Inflammation in the body is linked to numerous health problems including chronic pain, diabetes, obesity, and migraines. For older generations at least, volunteering as an act of kindness may be of benefit to reduce inflammation. In fact, according to one study of older adults aged 57-85, “volunteering manifested the strongest association with lower levels of inflammation.” 

    Additionally, oxytocin, also released with acts of kindness, reduces inflammation, and it can directly affect the chemical balance of your heart. According to Dr. David Hamilton, “oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure).”




    4. Kindness can reduce your stress levels

    Helping others takes you out of your own mind and can potentially help to build relationships with other people. Anything that helps you to build bonds with other people is known as 'affiliative behavior'.

    And, according to one study on the effects of pro-social behavior — action intended to help others  on stress, “affiliative behavior may be an important component of coping with stress and indicate that engaging in pro-social behavior might be an effective strategy for reducing the impact of stress on emotional functioning.”


    “Science and studies show that being kind and helpful clearly has a positive and uplifting effect on those carrying out the act.”

    Furthermore, once we establish an 'affiliative connection' with someone — a relationship of friendship, love, or other positive bonding — we feel emotions that can boost our immune system. So, it seems continued altruism can boost your happiness and improve relationships and connections, in turn indirectly boosting your health.


    Shifting to kindness

    So, knowing this, why aren't people benefiting from the power of kindness? Why aren’t more people making a conscious effort to change the lives of others? 

    For one, in our fast-paced world, benevolence and compassion often end up taking a back seat to self-interest – and selfies. People don’t seem to take the time to stop and help others or even notice what’s going on as we're often wrapped up in our own lives.

    Helping hand: the power of kindness is proven

    Also, some people believe that showing kindness and compassion is a weakness and will only lead to being taken advantage of. But, the truth is, it’s in our human DNA to show kindness. In fact, we’re the only mammals with an extended gestation period, and while other animals rely on support for a short period before becoming self-reliant, we depend on the care of our caregivers to provide our needs. Indeed, kindness is fundamental to the human existence – we're literally wired for it. 

    Kindness is not something that demands hard work or huge amounts of time. It’s something all of us can strive to achieve every day. And, knowing that the power of kindness and its benefits are immense for ourselves and not just the receiver, why wouldn’t you want to help others more?  

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    Gratitude | Acceptance | Altruism | Volunteering



    Written by Calvin Holbrook

    calvin.holbrook.jpegCalvin is the magazine editor, as well being an artist and lover of swimming, yoga, dancing to house/techno, and all things vintage! Find out more.





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    The power of kindness!
    These words alone make me happy, because there is so much truth in them.

    The power of kindness is at the same time the power of love, something that we can always have within us and that we can lavishly give to everyone we meet.

    And this power of kindness can also mean that we share our material possessions with those who have little. All kind and loving gestures are equally important if we perceive with open eyes and an open heart what our counterpart needs.  I love the power of kindness and I celebrate all people who exude this power!

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    Another great book is “the little book of kindness” by dr David Hamilton... it goes into the science of it a bit too which I always find fascinating... ?

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    In many spiritual traditions, kindness is seen as the key to liberation or salvation.

    In her book Lovingkindness, Sharon Salzburg quotes the Buddha as follows: 

    If you are kind:

    • You will sleep easily
    • You will wake easily
    • You will have pleasant dreams
    • People will love you
    • Celestial beings and animals will love you
    • Devas (celestial beings) will protect you
    • External dangers will not harm you
    • Your face will be radiant
    • Your mind will be serene
    • You will die unconfused
    • You will be reborn in happy realms

    The power of kindness is indeed a force to be reckoned with, as @Lizzie so nicely put it.  It's something we can all benefit from indeed.

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    Really enjoyed this article and I'm a firm believer in the power of kindness! It is so true that a kind gesture to make someone else's life easier or even just put a smile on their face makes both parties happier.

    The ripple effect is also clear to me with the power of kindness; I think by having someone do something kind for you, you're more likely to get inspired to perform an act of kindness for someone else. And, as also explained in the article,  doing something nice for someone else makes you feel good, and you'd probably want to do it again. 

    The power of kindness is definitely real and a force to be reckoned with! ?

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    I am not aware of the real numbers, did the number of homeless people in Barcelona grow in the last ten years?
    It's my impression because when I visit, I try to give something to every person in need that crosses my path. And in the last years, I became increasingly exhausted by what I witness.

    I remember that I used to recognize the people I usually met during my rounds with the dogs. I would pack a snack, a sandwich, a coffee or some money and even when my pockets were empty I would say hello and maybe have a little chat.
    After those interactions, I usually walked around grateful and smiling for quite a while thinking that on an emotional level, it was so human and rewarding.

    I can't believe that kindness - and it takes great inner strength to be kind! - is often looked at as weak in our society.

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