Did you know that giving and kindness increases well-being? Our well-being is made up of many factors, and these factors may be different for every person. How we look at life, how we interact with others, how we feel about ourselves all play a role in our outlook and our feelings of satisfaction. Researchers have been trying for years to nail down specific paths to help people achieve a state of positive well-being and, although there are still multiple dynamics to consider, there are some actions you can take to help you achieve happiness. Giving and kindness are one of those actions that increases your well-being.
First of all, what exactly is well-being? Well-being has been defined as the combination of feeling good and functioning well; the experience of positive emotions such as happiness and contentment as well as the development of one’s potential, having some control over one’s life, having a sense of purpose, and experiencing positive relationships
Unfortunately, the World Happiness Report has found that people’s well-being has taken a negative hit as a result of Covid-19 and all the resulting consequences from this deadly disease. There has been greater economic insecurity, anxiety, disruption of every aspect of life, and, for many people, stress and challenges to mental and physical health.
With this decrease in our well-being, it has become even more important to find ways to increase well-being and improve people’s state of mental health for themselves, for their families and communities. Covid-19 has created a world and way of functioning that we haven’t experienced before. But like experiencing hardships together, we can also experience ways to come out of it together.
Kindness has been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy and compassion, and improve mood. It can decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone, which directly impacts your health. People who give of themselves in a balanced way also tend to be healthier and live longer. Kindness spreads like smiles – you can’t help but smile when someone smiles at you. And people generally want to share the warm fuzzy feeling they get when someone does something kind. The best way to share is to do something kind for someone else through small acts of giving.
Getting a daily DOSE of happiness is a key to increasing well-being. Research has shown that giving and kindness will give you a needed DOSE of happiness:
D – dopamine – known as the “feel-good” hormone; in fact, when you associate a certain activity with pleasure, mere anticipation may be enough to raise dopamine levels
O – oxytocin – boosting your sense of trust, love, optimism, and connection
S – serotonin – making you feel happy and calm while healing your body
E – endorphins; producing a natural euphoric rush
Together, this DOSE, as a result of giving and kindness, gives you a “Helper’s High”, which is what many people experience from a small act of giving. It has a powerful feel-good effect on your mind and body. When all these hormones are released in your body, along with a decrease in stress hormones such as cortisol, you can’t help but feel good about life and your role in it.
Studies have found that people benefitting from an act of giving are motivated to give to someone else – researchers call this “upstream reciprocity” but many of us call this phenomenon “paying it forward”. Researchers have also found that givers inspire observers to behave generously later – so one give can influence hundreds of onlookers to give. What started as a ripple soon turns into a wave of giving!
The best part about giving and kindness is it’s contagious and teachable. The more you do, the more benefits are felt around you and can continue spreading. Create the world we all want to live in – be a role model for others and start your giving today to make a difference. Remember to practice often and repeat daily. Your giving and kindness will be felt all over the world. Looking for a little inspiration to get you going on your small acts of giving and kindness? 365give has lots of giving ideas to start your daily giving practice. Sign up for your free membership account and start going through our resources!