People who perform Random Acts of Kindness generally agree that doing a kind deed for someone else makes them “feel good.” But apart from sheer niceness, why should people be encouraged to commit Acts of Kindness? Are there any other concrete benefits that would motivate more people to become kinder?
The answer is an overwhelming “yes!” A number of scientific studies show that Acts of Kindness result in significant health benefits, both physical and mental, for those who perform them.
One of the most compelling studies of altruism was performed by Allan Luks and documented in his 1991 book, The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others. Luks is the former executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Health and executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New York City.
The volunteers in Luks’ study testified to feeling a rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm, after performing a kind act. This feeling, which Luks calls “helper’s high,” involves physical sensations that strongly indicate a sharp reduction in stress and the release of the body’s natural painkillers, the endorphins. This initial rush is then followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional well-being.
This reduction in stress is vital to the health improvements reported by so many study volunteers. (In fact, more than 90 percent of Luks’ volunteers reported that regular volunteering produced feelings which are a powerful antidote to stress.) Why is stress reduction so important? Because stress can be the root cause of so many maladies, according to Hans Selye, a Hungarian physician who wrote a groundbreaking book called The Stress of Life in 1956.
Selye’s findings on stress are cited by Luks because many of his study volunteers had stress-related health problems that improved after performing kind acts.
And, remember…Feed Your Good Dog, so your good dog always wins!
visit with us on follow us on