This is probably not the kind of post you would expect to see here. You’re probably expecting me to make the case that being kind to yourself is part of a healthy lifestyle because it’s good to have warm fuzzy feelings and people would read along and say “blah, blah, blah”. Yeah I probably would too. Luckily! That’s not what this is about. This is all about the science people and it even comes from a doctor and studies and other science like stuff. But first I need to ramble on and get you all set up so you can handle the science.
I’ve been seeing a lot of campaigns to promote healthy living as of late. I see people posting healthy recipes, discussions of Yoga, some crazy 30 day ab challenge thing that appears to threaten the protective layer of fatty tissue I have worked hard to build up for the purpose of protecting my abs… you get the idea. All of these are great things and I really do agree that we need to promote healthier living because we live in an increasingly sedentary society. In my day job I sit on my butt all day. Our bodies are not built for a lot of sitting and when we don’t move them enough we have health problems. But there is more to our bodies than just our arms and legs and glutes and abs. We all have a brain… yes, I know what some of you are thinking but trust me, even the people you would least expect do have brains.
When we talk about living a healthy lifestyle we need to look at a complete package. You can’t do a 30 day ab challenge while eating fast food at every meal and expect to have a six pack in 30 days. Well, yes, when I start these things I do expect that but then reality shakes me vigorously and I wake up from the fantasy. We need to include our brains in our attempts to live healthier lifestyles. North America is becoming increasingly depressed and there are a lot of reasons for it but I think that it may be because we aren’t taking care of our brains like we should be. We feed them with negative things and quite often forget that we need to throw in some positive things too. Watching the news can be the most negative hour of your day. We need to balance that out.
The good news is that we can do something for ourselves that also helps others. Yup, you guessed it, include kindness in your lifestyle. Dr. David R. Hamilton has a great article here about the five side effects of kindness. He has the “Dr.” in front of his name which means he went to school for a very long time and he’s smart. On top of that he includes his middle initial when telling people his name so this clearly sets him apart from all of the other David Hamilton’s out there who might be selling snake oil. Seriously though, he seems like a very intelligent man and I like what he says so maybe it’s worth a read and some consideration. Here is a summary:
1) Kindness makes us happier – and there’s some science stuff behind that. Did you know we produce a natural kind of morphine/heroine chemical? Kindness can give you a natural high at no cost!
2) Kindness helps your heart – that warm emotional feeling we get from kind acts causes our bodies to produce hormones that are called cardioprotective hormones. That’s a very good sounding compound word right there!
3) Kindness slows aging – do you hate free radicals and inflammation because they make you look old and feel even older? Give ‘em a shot of kindness and you’ll have the upper hand on two of the culprits responsible for aging.
4) Kindness makes better relationships – OK, that’s kind of obvious David R. Hamilton. When someone has just done something very kind for you it’s hard to punch them in the face. Apparently there’s more to it than that though. When we treat people with kindness we develop a closer emotional bond with them and that’s a good thing if you want healthy relationships.
5) Kindness is contagious – again, obvious, I’m sure we’ve all seen this happen when one act of kindness causes a ripple effect. So the very act that is making us healthier and happier naturally spreads and passes the benefits on to others like a virus. We could call it “the happy virus” or “H1N-FUN!”… OK, maybe we won’t do that but if we can do something good for ourselves and do something good for other people at the same time everyone wins!
Enjoy your weekend!