Do You Want a Kind or an Unkind Future?

 

If you want to change the world and have your own personal impact on our future, then always be a little kinder than necessary.

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.

Does kindness make the world a better place? Could our acts of kindness warm the coldness of other people’s lives?

In our mobile-global society, people across the planet are linked together via the Internet, satellite communications, social networking and even international products.

Could a network of person-to-person kindness eventually connect the world in a meaningful way?

The best person to answer your travel questions or guide you through the process of creating the perfect pasta sauce might be several thousand miles away, but still within your immediate access, ready to offer valuable advice, thanks to technology.

But is the opposite also true? How did you feel when the friend you met for coffee keeps incessantly checks her text messages? Is it possible to have love and compassion for all humankind without engaging in visible deeds of kindness with the people you are engaged with around you?

Try thinking about it this way. Do not ask me to be kind, just ask me to act as though I were kind. What do you think our future might look like if we all “acted” as if we were kind?

Reaching out to others with the intention to serve and no expectation of return rewards you with a sense of power and influence over situations that might appear out of your control. You are no longer a victim of an unfortunate circumstance.

An act of kindness is never insignificant. Kindness is manifestations of strength and resolutions.

Renowned psychotherapist and author Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW writes,  “Cruelty is never brave—it’s mostly cheap and easy, especially in today’s culture.”

Dare to be part of the brave new world. Be kind.

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The Kindness Diet

Fifty percent of Americans are overweight, and we spend over $40 million a year on diet programs and products to slim down and get healthy. In our society, where addiction and instant gratification rule, looking and staying young and hot is more important than maintaining good health. People are literally dying to lose weight.Humbly, I must admit, I am counted in these statistics. As a child, one of the things I learned from my father was thin = good and fat = bad. Although I was not chubby until I was subjected to these alleged facts, I was put on the Grapefruit Diet at age 10. Was that child abuse? Perhaps.
I, like billions of others, fell victim to the illusion that there is a magic pill, eating plan, hormone injection or medical procedure that will solve my weight problem and make me happy. Thin people are happier, aren’t they?
Turns out, no big surprise, that the real and lasting solution to the weight loss, health and ultimately happiness riddle is simple, free and available in unlimited supplies: kindness. Research indicates kindness to oneself and others can have a marked impact on weight loss. In one study, those who increased their efforts to be kind to everyone around them burned more white fat—the bad kind—converting it to energy and resulting in weight loss. More and more holistic health articles are popping up on the practice of kindness visualization, meditation and prayer as integral to achieving a healthy weight.  The Kindness Diet is for real and it works not only for human health but in Alicia Silverstone’sbook and blog, the health of all living beings.If nothing else, it feels good to be kind. And being the good little addict and instant-gratification-oriented human that I am, if something feels good, I want more of it. Maybe I can reframe that painful childhood lesson and change thin = good to kindness = good health.

Perform 2 Acts of Kindness and Call Me in the Morning

The results are in: kindness promotes a longer and healthier life. It’s like the ultimate happy pill. But unlike drugs, addiction to kindness is good for you.

Scientific research shows that being kind is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Performing kind acts can significantly improve mental, emotional and physical health, and even helps diminish symptoms of physical diseases and psychological disorders. In his book, The Pleasure Prescription, Dr. Paul Pearsall writes: “In concrete terms, there seems to be a biological reward for doing the right thing. It is not necessary to carry out major acts of kindness to gain the health benefit. In fact it has been found that brief, small, regular acts of kindness yield the highest health benefits.”

According to Allan Luks and Peggy Payne in their book The Healing Power of Doing Good, kindness:

  • Promoted optimism
  • Heightens our sense of well-being, and can even bring on a euphoric state
  • Increases energy levels
  • Decreases feelings of loneliness, depression and helplessness
  • Increases sense of connectedness with others
  • Helps achieves a greater sense of calmness and relaxation
  • Enables better weight control
  • Reduces symptoms of insomnia
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Reduces pain
  • Improves circulation and reduces high blood pressure and coronary disease
  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves arthritis and asthma
  • Increases recovery  from surgery
  • Reduces cancer activity

A participant in Luks’ research relates his story: “Some months ago I was so stressed out that I could barely get four hours sleep at night, and I had all sorts of aches and pains. I had even tried antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs, but to no avail. I then found out first hand that it is love that truly heals. When I do nice things for others, I definitely feel a physical response. For me it is mostly a relaxation of muscles that I hadn’t even realized had been tensed. I can now sleep well at night, and most of my aches and pains have disappeared.”

So why does kindness make you feel so good? There are two reasons. The first is that performing acts of kindness takes our mind off our own problems. The second is that while performing an act of kindness, our bodies reward us by triggering the release of endorphins, an endogenous opioid peptide that gives us a sense of exhilaration and wellbeing, helps reduce the intensity of pain messages sent to the brain, and boosts our immune systems.

There is one important catch. In order to benefit from a kind act, we must do it without expectations. If we expect recognition and the act of kindness is not acknowledged or appreciated, we might end up feeling angry or disappointed. In this mindset, the chemical benefit is lost. The negative feelings cause cellular inflammation, which is actually damaging to our health.

Like other things that impact our health, kindness is contagious. It has a ripple effect. When people receive or observe kindness, they are inspired to be kind themselves. In effect, when we choose to do a kind deed, we are actively helping reduce world tension by starting the healing process one person at a time. It begins with us.

Kindness Mends the Family Tree

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go according to any rules. They’re not like aches or wounds; they’re more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there’s not enough material.”

No kidding! Despite our best intentions, all of us, whether we are a parent, sibling, child, aunt, uncle, in-law or a combination of these, often engage with our family in unkind ways. Sometimes we don’t even know why or can’t even see it until someone points it out. Fear and judgement cloud our vision such that openness and compassion have a hard time breaking through. Maybe the family member we have the hardest time with is the one we most need to find kindness for.  But how?