HEALTH

The health benefits of a random act of kindness

Nov 13, 2022, 11:00 AM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:42 am

Spreading kindness doesn't have to be complicated. (Stock photo, Getty Images)...

Spreading kindness doesn't have to be complicated. (Stock photo, Getty Images)

(Stock photo, Getty Images)

(CNN) — Spreading kindness not only helps others feel better about themselves — it can also boost the giver’s health and happiness, according to research. It’s a win-win for all.

Putting the well-being of others before our own without expecting anything in return — or what is called being altruistic — stimulates the reward centers of the brain, studies have shown. Those feel-good chemicals flood our system, producing a sort of “helper’s high.” Volunteering, for example, has been shown to minimize stress and improve depression.

Longer life, anyone?

That’s not all: The same activity can also reduce the risk for cognitive impairment and even help us live longer. One reason for this, experts say, is because kindness contributes to our sense of community and belonging. And that, studies have found, is a key contributor to a healthy, longer life.

Lower blood pressure

Giving donations to others, or “prosocial spending,” has been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve heart health. One study asked a group of hypertensive people to spend $40 on themselves, while another group of people with high blood pressure were told to spend the money on others.

They found that those who spent money on others had lower blood pressure at the end of the six-week study. In fact, the benefits were as large as those from healthy diet and exercise.

Pain reduction

Giving seems to lessen our pain. A recent study found that people who said they would donate money to help orphans were less sensitive to an electric shock than those who declined to give. In addition, the more helpful people thought their donation would be, the less pain they felt.

How could this happen? The study found that regions of the brain that react to painful stimulation appear to be instantly deactivated by the experience of giving.

Happiness

In the UK, researchers found that being kind could boost happiness in as little as three days. The study assigned people to three groups: the first group had to do an act of kindness each day; the second group tried a new activity; and the third group did nothing. The groups who were kind and did novel things saw a significant boost in happiness.

You’ll experience even greater joy if you’re creative with your acts of kindness. Happiness researchers Sonja Lyubomirsky and Kennon Sheldon found that people who did a variety of acts of kindness throughout the week showed greater increases in happiness than those who performed the same activity over and over again.

And here’s the good news: It seems acts of kindness can be anonymous or visible, spontaneous or planned, and can be as simple as giving a compliment or opening a door for someone.

Kindness suggestions

OK, you’re convinced and want to jump right into being a kinder and more helpful person. There are literally hundreds of ideas on the internet, but here are a few to get you started:

  • While driving, make room for the car that wants to enter your lane.
  • Give a genuine compliment to a family member, friend or colleague.
  • Do the same for your boss — they probably never get compliments!
  • Let go of a grudge and tell that person you forgive them (unless telling them makes it worse).
  • Be there for a friend having a tough time. Don’t try to fix it; just listen.
  • Leave your mail carrier a thank-you note.
  • Overtip your delivery person.

But I’m so tired

That’s more than fair. Many people are struggling economically and are often overcome with balancing the needs of family, work and community. Consider being kind to yourself (in whatever way that means to you) as well as others. We all need a break.

Want more ideas? The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, which promotes kindness all year, has lists of kindness ideas, organized by work, community, environment, animals, strangers, kids, seniors and more.

“You’re making the world a better place,” the foundation says. But don’t forget — any kindness you give to others is also a gift to yourself.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Health

Johnson & Johnson brand baby powder, one of several products at the center of lawsuits against the ...

Kyle Remund

State of Utah reaches settlement with Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson will be giving Utah and many other states a massive payout due to deceptive marketing practices for talc-based products.

1 day ago

(Canva)...

Heather Peterson

Program connects those who suffered mental health illnesses to employers

SALT LAKE CITY — A sector of Utah’s Department of Health and Human Services is connecting those who have suffered from mental health illnesses with employers to aid in their recovery. With Individual Placement and Support (IPS) offices across the state, they help those who have suffered from mental health crises or a co-occurring substance […]

2 days ago

Orem resident Georgia Burt Presnell celebrated her 105th birthday on Friday. (Emma Everett Johnson)...

Emma Everett Johnson, KSL.com

Orem resident turns 105, has some advice for young people

"I don't feel 105, but I look it," she joked, addressing a crowd of family and friends who were there to celebrate her.

6 days ago

Adam Benicosa next to his mail truck...

Jessica Lowell

Mailman considered a hero after helping a woman who fell

A Roy mailman is being considered a mailman hero after helping a woman who fell while attempting to pull a weed in her yard.

7 days ago

Twenty-three-year-old Brigham Young University student Jack Walker, has been active his entire life...

Britt Johnson

“Diving intervention”: BYU student survives, recovers after suffering heart attack at marathon

A 23-year-old BYU student suffered a heart attack this weekend at the Utah Valley Marathon. He called his survival "divine intervention"

8 days ago

university of utah health hospital shown, workers are starting a union...

Mariah Maynes

University of Utah Hospital to provide employee parking stipends

According to the University of Utah, it will begin providing parking stipends to employees who work on its main hospital campus on July 1.

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

The health benefits of a random act of kindness