"It's nice to be nice," Richard Scarry's Lowly Worm advised us sagely.
Ever experienced the good feeling that comes when you do something nice for somebody else? It's a warm, fuzzy glow that can stay with us for hours, even days.
If that alone weren't incentive enough for kindness, there is also scientific evidence that shows it can have notably positive effects on our physical and mental health.
'"It’s called Giver's Glow," says Stephen G. Post, director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at New York’s Stony Brook University. The response, he says, is triggered by brain chemistry in the mesolimbic pathway, which recognizes rewarding stimuli.' 1
Two "happy chemicals" released by our brains that play a big part in how we feel after performing an act of kindness are oxytocin and dopamine.
Oxytocin is also known as the "love hormone". It helps us form bonds with others, including the bond developed between a mother and child during breastfeeding.
Dopamine can induce a sensation of euphoria. Both are triggered by acts of generosity and goodwill.
So just what is an act of kindness?
Honestly, any action that stems from a desire to do something nice for somebody else. An act of kindness looks different on each person. Not everyone is in the position to donate whopping great sums of money to charitable causes- not everyone is physically able to carry their neighbour's groceries. It's about your intentions; it's about your heart.
"Do your little bit of good where you are. It's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." - Desmond Tutu.