Is there really such a thing as the science of kindness? You betcha. There is compelling evidence that acts of kindness can make a real difference in the psychological well-being of the people who practice and receive it.
In a study published by James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis in a 2010 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, cooperative behavior was proved to be contagious. When people receive kindness they tend to “pay kindness forward” by showing kindness to others. This cascade of kindness and generosity spreads creating a multiplier effect. Each act of kindness is like a “matching grant” of (reciprocal) kindness that is truly contagious.
Not only do acts of kindness have lasting effects. In a related study by Richard Easterlin, published in the 2003 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we find that life events (divorce, marriage, serious health challenges, disabilities) have lasting effects on the degree to which we experience happiness. “These life-changing events are not temporary deflections from normality but lifelong ‘shadows.’”
Researchers like the father-son team of Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener and Stanford psychologist, Sonja Lyubomirsky, have studied people all over the world to discover how things like money, positive attitude, culture, healthy life style, altruism, and day-to-day habits affect our well-being. The socio-psychological field and the emerging field of positive psychology are filled with new findings that suggest this amazing truth: Our actions have a tremendous impact on our happiness and satisfaction with life.
Paying kindness forward is an inherent human trait because it is an innate spiritual quality within us. We are spiritual beings who have chosen a human experience. So at our core we are kind and generous. The acoustics of kindness is in our DNA. We can choose to pay kindness forward or repress the urge to be kind. Nevertheless, kindness is an essential part of our makeup.
The multiplier effect of kindness which sociologists assure us creates a sort of ‘matching grant’ of reciprocated kindness and generosity is acknowledged by Mother Teresa, who reminded us that “kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.”
Kind words start with kind thoughts, of course, and kind thoughts spring from a spiritually-attuned consciousness, one centered in goodness, generosity, and love. The phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” may have been coined by Anne Herbert, who wrote it on a place mat at a Sausalito restaurant in 1982.
Regardless of who wrote the original phrase, we’re convinced that kindness is contagious. And we certainly honor the divinity in others when kindness is offered. We believe kindness is more than an act of generosity. It is an act of inner strength. “Tenderness and kindness,” says Lebanese poet Kahil Gibran, “are not signs of weakness and despair but manifestations of strength and resolution.”
We’d also like to add that kindness acknowledges ‘kind-nessing’ as a spiritual gift because it confirms not only the value and worth of the one on the receiving end, but the higher consciousness operating in the one bestowing the kindness.
Your “adventure” for this week: Each day, look for five opportunities to “pay kindness forward” – and notice the impact it has on your own well-being! Leave a comment and let us know what you did … and/or what you discovered about the effect on you!About the authors: In addition to their work with The Metaphysical Website, Revs. Drs. Bil and Cher Holton also present dynamic corporate workshops, the most popular entitled “The ExtraordinaryYou!” They are prolific authors, dynamic speakers, and master facilitators. Learn more by visiting them at www.TheMetaphysicalWebsite.com and www.HoltonConsulting.com