Want to live longer? Be kind!

November 12, 2019 · Print This Article

Whether it’s the UK parliament over the Brexit debate or two of the most influential YouTube stars going head-to-head in last weekend’s boxing match, we seem to be living in a time when public discourse is coarser than ever before. Kindness may, at times, seem to come at a premium.

With tomorrow being World Kindness Day, it seems a good time to ask ourselves whether we could show a little more kindness. If we do, we may just live a little longer!

Apparently, kindness has some pretty cool side effects, including longer life. Researchers at UCLA’s Bedari Kindness institute (no, I didn’t know there was one, either!) have been putting kindness under the microscope. The institute was set up to help bridge the divide between science and spirituality.

They discovered that “engaging in kindness, contemplating how you can be kind to others, lowers blood pressure”.[1] There are therapeutic benefits too; being more kind can help reduce depression and anxiety.

But what is kindness? And just how can we be more kind?

I like the definition from Mr Fessler, one of the researchers: kindness is “the thoughts, feelings and beliefs associated with actions intending to benefit others, where benefiting others is an end in itself, not a means to an end”. Nicely said, but how can I show more of it?

If your kindness index is a little low, here is a website dedicated to ideas about kindness. There are plenty of ideas but for what it’s worth, here are mine:

  • Next time you’re being served that coffee, use the name of the person serving you, it makes them feel more valued.
  • Listen to others with your heart – really trying to understand them – rather than just your ears.
  • Pay greater attention to the people you work with; notice something they do well and then tell them.
  • Ask those around you if they need help.

If you do these things, if you are intentionally kind, who knows, maybe you will add some years to your life!

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-50266957

[Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash]

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