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Kindness: It’s contagious. Be a super spreader!
In recent years there has been a surge of merchandise adorned with the message ‘be kind’. With World Kindness Day on 13th November 2023, should we pay attention and act in some way? Maybe it’s just a bit of fun like ‘International Talk Like A Pirate Day’, to be dabbled with and forgotten about until next year? Or should it just be dismissed as a cynical marketing ploy using platitudes to push products or some other form of ‘wokery’?
Bernadette Doyle: Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapist, NLP & Coach
Given the demands on our time and headspace, it would be easy and understandable to treat this day just like any other and get on with our busy lives. It turns out, though, that weaving kindness into our everyday lives can have profound effects on us and this impact spreads out to our families, organisations, communities and the wider world.
Could kindness be the contagion that we and the world need so desperately to be infected by?
Kindness is contagious – With an R number of 4-5:
With Covid, quite understandably there were concerns about if the R number went above 1. However, some infections are worth spreading. According to research, the R number of kindness is 4-5.
Put this in the context for your busy day ahead, your one act of kindness, no matter how big or small, sends out a ripple to those people who are direct recipients as well as those who witnessed the kind deed. All of whom in turn are much more likely to do a kind deed themselves. Statistically this translates into a further 125 acts of kindness!
Kindness has a profound impact on our bodies:
When we are kind, as an individual, we experience physiological benefits.
Our bodies release endorphins, which in simple terms are nature’s painkillers and one of our mood boosters. All without the need to hit the gym!
Serotonin is released. This is a neurotransmitter also associated with positive feelings like happiness as well as enhancing learning, memory and the body’s ability to heal. It can also reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
Oxytocin (AKA the ‘love’ or connection hormone) also surges through our system. This reduces feelings of low mood as well as lowering blood pressure, cortisol levels and experiences of stress and anxiety. It also protects our hearts. Oxytocin is a cardioprotective hormone and after physical exercise it is the 2nd best contributor to heart health.
Kindness has benefits for our emotional and mental fitness:
People who routinely exercise kindness benefit from boosts in their wellbeing and mental health. Some of this relates to enhanced sense of purpose and self-esteem in their daily lives and results in greater life satisfaction.
Intuitively we can all agree on there being benefits to others from our kind deeds. As these couple of examples demonstrate, there are also clear benefits to us as individuals.
The benefits of self-kindness:
How do you talk to yourself when something goes wrong? Are you supportive and compassionate? Or critical, harsh and disparaging? If it’s the latter, as for so many of us, ask yourself the question: would you talk to anyone else in the same tone and using the same language?
Critical self-talk can feel like a threat and trigger the fight, flight and freeze response. When our inner chatter is reflective and kind, it releases oxytocin instead. Accepting that we are human doing the best we can builds our self-esteem, cultivates a growth mindset, impacts positively our relationships, our life satisfaction which can lead to fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.
So, what is it that really underpins kindness?
Kindness is really about connection:
We are wired for connection, to ourselves, others and the world around us. When we feel connected, we have a sense of belonging, a purpose in life that can empower us and can reduce loneliness.
Did you know that 1 in 4 of us feel lonely ‘always’, ‘often’ or some of the time’. This not only impacts us personally but has financial implications at work (£2.5 billion a year due to the impacts on our health and wellbeing). So, what can be done in the workplace?
Kindness in the workplace:
When there is a culture of kindness in the workplace, it can lead to open conversations, increased teamwork and collaboration. This has a positive impact on higher engagement, staff retention and ultimately organisational growth.
We have evolved to be kind:
We are physically, mentally and emotionally rewarded when we express kindness to ourselves and to others.
We are wired to connect with our fellow humans and the world we live in, which is why kindness reaps kindness. So, maybe this World Kindness Day we should embrace what we have evolved to do.
Kindness is a super power:
We can all be curious as to the difference that a smile, words of support, opening a door or whatever it is that you choose to do, could have on you and your wider community as it stretches across the world.
You don’t need to wear a cape or pants over your trousers to be a Super Spreader! Just like a droplet of water whose ripples broaden and widen, so to can your acts of kindness. Sometimes we need a little help to exercise kindness to ourselves, sometimes knowledge is enough to make a difference to our actions.
“Kindness is for everyday life, not just for World Kindness Day! Enjoy being a Super Spreader!”
David R Hamilton | Harvard Business Review | Campaign to end loneliness
Bernadette specialises in Anxiety | Past Traumas | Addictions | Fears & Phobias
For Employee Resilience, Wellbeing & Mental Fitness please visit: www.connectedape.com
M: 075611 069 051
You can find Bernadette and other QCH practitioners using the therapist finder https://www.qchpa.com/therapist-finder