Kindness Can Improve Your Health


Photo by Francois Léca

A helpful stranger to my rescue

A couple of weeks ago I had to get stitches. I was hurrying to my car before the usual afternoon deluge of rain and slipped and fell.

I didn’t realize that head wounds bled so much and this scared me. I managed to get up and sit in my car where I tried to stop the bleeding, which was not an easy task.

Suddenly, there was a knock on my window. This woman had seen the accident and came through the pouring rain to make sure I was okay. She stayed with me until the bleeding was under control. This meant a lot to me because I was shaken up.

I don’t remember saying thank you, but I hope I did. We were strangers and I must have looked pretty scary, but she showed kindness to me when I really needed it. She even stood in the rain to do it.

After things settled down, I got to thinking about this woman’s good nature and started doing some research about kindness. I learned some interesting things.

The benefits of random acts of kindness

Did you know that kindness can improve your health?

According to a study done by Allan Luks and Peggy Payne, authors of The Healing Power of Doing Good, there are many health benefits to being kind and helping others. They include:

  • A rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm after performing a kind act, which the authors called a “helper’s high.” (I like the idea that we can “get high” on kindness:~)
  • Improving stress-related health by reducing feelings of depression, hostility and isolation that may lead to physical problems.
  • Increasing feelings of joyfulness, emotional resilience and vigor.
  • Decreasing the intensity and the awareness of physical pain.    (I found this one very interesting!).
  • Maintaining a sense of well-being for hours or even days when remembering the helping act. (WOW. This is a nice benefit of being kind!)
  • Increasing self-worth, happiness and optimism, as well as a decrease in feelings of helplessness and depression.

I like to think that the woman who helped me received these health benefits and more. That’s the other thing that’s great about kindness; it’s contagious! When you are kind to someone, that person is more likely to be kind to someone else.

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This post is the first of a two-part series on kindness. Next Thursday, I will be doing an interesting interview with Tim Piazza, the developer of a new social site related to kindness. I hope you will return and learn more about this creative and kind man!

28 comments on “Kindness Can Improve Your Health

  1. Carol says:

    Sara, this is so timely. I read this quote awhile back:

    “When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.” –Abraham Joshua Heschel

    It’s so true for me now! I suggested to my family that we keep a kindness journal, writing down one thing per day that we did that was kind. Well, I may be doing that one by myself, but I still think it’s a great idea!

    • Sara says:

      @ Carol — That’s a wonderful quote. I like the idea of a family kindness journal. Well, at least you’re keeping the journal. I understand how hard it is getting our kids to do things like this. I can’t tell how many times I’ve suggested ideas to my daughters and they both smile, nod and ignore me, but they know I mean well. Thanks for this comment:~)

  2. I enjoyed reading this story, and it’s a great reminder of the kind of interactions that are possible between people after having just spent some time with a lot of aggressive drivers. 🙂

    • Sara says:

      @ Chris — It sounds like there’s a story here about aggressive drivers! I used to be a pretty aggressive driver, but I have discovered when I slow down, stop rushing and be kind to other drivers, my aggression dissipates. I’ve also founf that slowing down can actually get me where I’m going faster. It’s like the Universe responds when I drive calmly. I seem to get the green lights, people let me in, and my trip is so much easier:~) Thanks for your comment and I hope you’ll come back next Thursday for my interview with Tim Piazza…he’s got a really cool site to talk about!

  3. Talon says:

    Random acts of kindness definitely enrich lives. I’m glad the woman stayed with you, Sara, until you were able to get yourself some medical attention.

    I can well imagine the benefits of having a positive impact on the world…which is rarer and more appreciated than ever these days.
    .-= Talon´s last blog ..Faintest blush… =-.

    • Sara says:

      @ Talon — Me too…she was very nice and helped calm me down. Whether you’re talking about a brief moment of kindness or a major world-wide effort, there are so many benefits to being kind and helpful to others. We need to make sure we set an example of this for our children. I believe the best “weapons” we have for saving our tiny world are kindness and compassion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts:~)

  4. The forgetting about your own physical pain doesn’t surprise me. My mom is 89 and in a nursing home. Her kidneys are failing and she asks my sister to push her wheelchair over to someone who is bedridden. She holds her hand, chats and keeps her company. My mom has suffered from arthiritis forever. I really believe her when she says she has no pain. She’s to busy!

    • Sara says:

      @ Tess — What a lovely story about kindness. Your mother sounds like a very special person:~) It IS interesting that being kind relieves pain. What’s amazing to me is how the Universe (or if you prefer…God) has set things up so that when we do good things, we get rewarded both physically and mentally…how great is that?

  5. Random acts of kindness are awesome, as is this post about them. Great stuff!
    .-= Positively Present´s last blog ..the 9 don’ts of dealing with anger =-.

    • Sara says:

      @ Dani — Thanks for your comment. Maybe one of these days, we’ll have a joint blog session where we all share a story about random acts of kindness. That would be kind of fun, don’t you think:~)

  6. Hi Sara,

    What a fabulous topic.

    It’s ironic you should post this today (well maybe it’s not – :)) but yesterday on Oprah, she had Taylor Swift as a guest (it may have been a rerun). One thing Taylor said was that one of her goals is to spread kindness. Hearing a young gal, who is a role model to many, say that really touched my heart. Might we see a “kindness movement”. I hope so.
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..Readers vs Bots – Making Everyone Happy =-.

    • Sara says:

      @ Barbara — I love Taylor Swift’s music. What you mentioned about her makes me smile. I agree with you that it’s nice to know that someone as young as Taylor is already wise enough to understand the need for kindness in our world. I think things are changing in our world…there’s a shift in values. You can even see it now in some TV commercials — the focus is more on helping people. Maybe, you are right that the “kindness movement” is gaining momentum. I hope so, too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts:~)

  7. Sara,
    Such a thoughtful and beautiful story, more so because it is about kindness. I like the ripple effect of what that lady did…she helped you with ehr kindness…and youre helping us with your kindness insight…and inturn being inspired by this post i’m sure someone will do another act of kindness…and so on…
    So you see, the beautiful ripple effect.
    I am reminded of a quote
    “Kindness in words creates confidence.
    Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
    Kindness in giving creates love.”
    – Lao Tzu
    .-= Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s last blog ..Love Will Truly Set You Free =-.

    • Sara says:

      @ Zeenat — So, you’re creating the circle of kindness, which goes around and around infinitely! Thanks for sharing the Lao Tzu quote. It is a beautiful one:~) By the way, I “loved” your post on love:~)

  8. Evelyn Lim says:

    I am glad to know that you are all right. It was great that an “angel on earth” appeared! She was there when you needed help!
    .-= Evelyn Lim´s last blog ..Angelic Reiki Healing with Angels, Archangels and Ascended Masters =-.

    • Sara says:

      @ Evelyn — Oh, you’re not kidding. If I fallen differently I could easily broken my hip and I’m at the age where that’s a dangerous thing…so I was pleased that an “angel” was looking after me that day…and that she sent someone to keep me company when I was afraid. I appreciate your thoughts:~)

  9. Carla says:

    I love your story. It reminds me of when I had fainted in my apartment, busted my face on something on my floor and didnt realize I was bleeding profusely. I went into the hallway of my building and people came to my aid right away. Though its hard to think of someone walking away, it still feels good to know that people cared.
    .-= Carla´s last blog ..Brave, Stupid or Both? =-.

    • Sara says:

      @ Carla — I am very glad that people did help you when you had your accident; it’s really scary when you are bleeding like that, isn’t it.? That’s why it’s so important when people do stop and help because their presence, even just holding someone’s hand can calm a person and reduce stress. I think we all have the capacity for great kindness; it’s often fear or lack of trust that stops people from expressing it:~)

  10. Holy cow, I’m totally going to BE KIND TO EVERY ONE I MEET!!! From this moment ever onward.

    What a wonderful sharing connection today – thanks!

    How’s the head?
    .-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Ridiculously Green — Austin’s “Ladybird Lake” Hike & Bike Trail =-.

    • Sara says:

      @ Jannie — Okay…I’m going to hold you to that promise. I’m sending a little kindness angel to you and she’s going to be watching YOU. Now, to be honest, while she’s a kindness angel, she’s also tough. When you forget to be kind, you might find things happen to you….like you walk outside and a bird poops on your head. This is considered fair as the bird needs to poop and you kindly provided a place…so be CAREFUL and BE KIND:~)

      The head is much better…well, as it good as it can get:~)

  11. Walter says:

    An act of kindness is truly noble. It touches upon our soul and makes our bodies feel good. I think it is our purpose to give each other a helping hand. Why would we otherwise feel good about it. 🙂

    • Sara says:

      @ Walter — I totally agree with you! As I said, personally it’s intentional. By doing things that are helpful and kind, we get rewarded, which then makes us want to do it again. Thank you for sharing your thoughts:~)

  12. Lori says:

    Wonderful reminder. Another great thing about practicing random acts of kindness is that you can practice generosity and it doesn’t cost you anything. But the good feeling you and the receiver get feels like gold.
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..Do The Thing Anyway =-.

    • Sara says:

      @ Lori — This is so true and you are right about both the giver and the receiver being rewarded. When I do something kind for someone, I feel so GOOD. Just the other day, I was in a grocery store and the check out girl was obviously having a tough day. I can’t even remember what I said, but it made her laugh. When she did, her whole face lit up and I was totally delighted. It was truly a win-win situation. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts:~)

  13. CG Walters says:

    thank you for your work here, Sara.
    Many blessings to you and all you hold dear,

  14. Liz says:

    I believe in the power of kindness. I want to “live welcoming to all” as advocated by Mechtild of Magdeburg. I fall short of this a lot, but it’s my goal.
    Liz´s last blog post ..NaNoWriMo

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