Kindness: A Contagion Worth Catching
By Debbie Lyn Toomey, Health & Happiness Specialist™
Are you sick of feeling down and want to just be happy?
Are you feeling isolated and lonely, and you are desperate to find a way to feel connected with others?
The easiest way to do this is through kindness. Small and consistent doses of kindness will make you and another person feel better. In fact, kindness has been shown to boost our levels of mental and physical health. It’s also been proven to enhance our relationships with others.
If you are concerned that you may not have a “kind” bone in your body, don’t worry because actually everyone does. A 2013 study done by Barbara Fredrickson et al. determined that groups of participants who were randomly assigned to perform a six week (one hour long) loving kindness meditation had a marked increase in their positive emotions as compared to the control group. Participants whose positivity levels increased were noted to also have an increase in their vagal tone as compared to their baseline vagal tone measurements. A toned vagus nerve influences our ability to connect with others, our breathing, heart rate variability and so much more.
What Happens in Vagus…
Without getting too scientific here, the vagus nerve otherwise called, cranial nerve X, is one of the 12 cranial nerves in our body. It runs from our head all the way down to our stomach. That’s not counting the other nerves that run from it. Among the many responsibilities of the vagus nerve are the unconscious body procedures like controlling our digestion and heart rate. In fact, stimulating this nerve, called vagus nerve stimulation, is sometimes used to treat people with seizures or depression.
Kindness in Action
Let’s put kindness in action. There are many ways to cultivate a practice of kindness that will benefit you and others on so many levels. An act of kindness has the potential to create a positive ripple effect for those that have been touched by your one simple gesture. For example, I gave a co-worker a compliment about her hair. This compliment made her feel good about herself the rest of the day. Because she felt good, she was extra nice to everyone she interacted with the rest of the day allowing them to also benefit. Moreover, her positive state of being helped her work more effectively, making the rest of day go so smoothly that she was able to leave work on time. This gave her extra time with her family. It’s amazing how a small act of kindness can be a catalyst for so many positive actions.
“Put on a Happy Face”
Are you eager to start this practice but just don’t have any idea how and when to begin? It’s easy! Just like the song from the wonderful musical, Bye Bye Birdie, “Put On a Happy Face.” The best way to begin to “spread sunshine all over the place” is by starting small.
Here’s a list of 4 ideas you can try.
- Smile – even if you are not feeling very happy. Smiling can trick your brain into feeling that it is happy. Smiling is a nice way to greet someone without using any words. It’s a way of spreading sunshine all over the place.
- Space – giving up your space in line is a wonderful way to be kind to others without it costing you any money. Whether it is allowing someone to cut in front of you in the grocery line or in traffic, this gesture can go a long way.
- Say it – letting someone know that you appreciate them is a great gesture that will surely make anyone’s day. Whether it’s your family, friends, or co-worker, spend some time letting people know they matter.
- Secret – doing a kind act in secret, otherwise called Random Act of Kindness, is a fun way to strengthen your kindness muscles. Do something kind for someone without them seeing you do it. This adds a fun mystery to someone’s day that makes them feel special. Although anytime is a great time to be kind, February has a special day that honors this particular action. This year it is on February 17th.
“Pay it Forward”
Kindness is a wonderful gesture that makes more than one person feel good. It’s creates a “pay it forward” action that is contagious and effects others in so many wonderful ways. Remember any small gesture of kindness is enough to cause a powerful ripple of greatness. If you need motivation or just a way to stay connected with like-minded people who are looking for fun and unique way boost their health and happiness, then join our Facebook page called Positivity All the Time. Also, sign up for our newsletters at www.HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today to get your free 1-Minute Health and Happiness Assessment today.