Join the Kindness Revolution!
Worried about your future, your job, the planet... you name it? Well, help is at hand.
If you feel the world has gone mad—from crazy climate change to out-of-control economies—the flipside is that a new feel-good factor is coming to town. Apparently, we’re all becoming kinder, better people as a result of these turbulent times. Experts are predicting a ‘moral renewal’, with people learning to rely on friends and family more than money. “It’s a natural survival instinct to shift your focus closer to home and be nicer to friends and family during times of economic instability,” explains Londonbased psychologist John McDermott. “It makes us want to protect the people closest to us.”
But it’s not just family and friends. It seems people are also being kinder to complete strangers. “Being nice to people is addictive because kindness makes you feel happier,” says Dr David Hamilton, author of Why Kindness Is Good For You. “When a person performs an act of kindness, their brain produces dopamine—associated with positive thinking—and endorphins, which are hormones in your brain that make you happy. Face-to-face kindness also produces the bonding hormone oxytocin, which can lower blood pressure, plus it benefits the nervous system. Studies show that people who practise compassion have a more active vagus nerve, which plays a role in keeping your cardiovascular system healthy.”
Some of you may remember the
‘random acts of kindness’ vogue during the recession in the ’90s, but the altruism we’re seeing today is magnified by the Internet and social media. One could almost conclude that being nice to others is the ultimate selfish act: the buzz we get from being good stems from our innate need to feel valued and to belong. And an act of kindness in 2013 can provide instant hits of both— mention that old lady you helped across the road on Facebook, and watch the compliments roll in. Such acts can even go viral, like the now-famous photos of a policeman in the US buying a homeless man a pair of shoes, or the Free Hugs campaign that took over a few years ago.
From small beginnings, mighty things grow
Around the world, people are spreading kindness to strangers. Blogs such as 366 Random Acts have sprung up, where people pledge to do a good deed a day for a year, or do 35 nice things for people when they turn 35. “Spending money on others boosts happiness— even when cash is tight—especially if it’s for a worthy cause,” says John. “It provides moral reassurance and longterm satisfaction, and is much more effective than treating yourself, which only provides fleeting happiness.”
They were pretty sure they’d find a Chanel store around the corner!