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Being Kind Makes You Happier


If you read our last blog you'll know that last week was Random Acts of Kindness Week. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation encouraged people to undertake RAKs all week, in the hope that they will get into the habit and carry on into the future.

Research has shown that kind acts can make people feel better, even those who are generally anxious in social situations. Researchers at the University of British Columbia took a group of people who suffer with high levels of anxiety and assigned them the task of doing a kind act for other people at least six times a week. These acts of kindness were nice and simple; buy lunch for a friend, hold the door open for someone, donate to charity etc. Their findings showed that doing nice things for others or just being kind led to a significant increase in the positive mood of the subjects. Also leading to an increase in their levels of satisfaction within their relationships and a decrease in their avoidance of social situations.

Dr David R. Hamilton says that acts of kindness create an emotional warmth leading to the release of the hormone oxytocin, which in turn triggers the release of nitric oxide, a chemical that dilates blood vessels. This process reduces blood pressure and is why oxytocin is known as a cardioprotective hormone. So kindness literally protects your heart.

There have been lots of examples of RAKs in the news of late, for example the case of disabled pensioner, Alan Barnes, who was attacked outside his own home. Alan's story touched many hearts, but when beautician, Katie Cutler, heard about it she actually did something about it. Katie set up a crowdfunding GoFundMe page online to help Alan raise enough money to move to another home because he felt afraid being where he was attacked. Katie set an initial target of £500 for Alan, but within days complete strangers had donated well over that figure and now, just 13 days later, the fund stands at £330,315.00. In fact, Alan's family have now said that they feel Alan has more than enough money now and have asked people to stop donating! Just that one simple act of kindness from Katie has led to over 24 thousand people donating in their own acts of kindness and Alan can now move to a new home and feel safe, plus not have to worry about money for a good while.

Katie has been praised highly for her altruistic act but she says she just wanted to help. We should all be kind and want to help more because according to Sonja Lyubomirsky PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California "People who engage in kind acts become happier over time, when you are kind to others you feel good as a person - more moral, optimistic, and positive". Having studied happiness for more than 20 years, Lyubormirsky's research found that performing kind acts at least once a week led to the most happiness.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation have been encouraging people to share their stories of RAKs that they have performed themselves, or been the recipient of and you can read them here. We find reading them is a great way to cheer yourself up on a bad day, and to get ideas for your own acts of kindness too.

Well being


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