Try a Little Kindness
Everyone loves that warm heart feeling they get when they do something kind for another. It's wonderful, right? Did you know kind acts – even secret ones – can do wonders for your physical, mental and emotional health? And there’s another curious thing about kindness: It’s uniquely contagious, kindness researchers say.
A study conducted among students at the University of British Columbia found that performing acts of kindness can help lower people's social anxiety, which often leads to negative self-beliefs and behaviors.
"We found that any kind act appeared to have the same benefit, even small gestures like opening a door for someone or saying 'thanks' to the bus driver," the published study states. "Kindness didn’t need to involve money or time-consuming efforts, although some of our participants did do such things. Kindness didn’t even need to be ‘face to face.' "
Besides its potential for alleviating anxiety along with other health benefits, some of which are listed in this article, there is an infectious quality to kindness that goes deeper than simply being the popular thing to do in the moment.
It even goes deeper than what we know about the measurable energy exchange that occurs between two people when they touch. A simple example of this"touch energy exchange" is when someone extends the kindness of helping a stranger up from a chair: Chances are their touch didn’t set off fireworks – though it happens – and they might never meet again, but studies show both giver and receiver change profoundly, if only for the moment. As they fan out in their circles of family, friends, co-workers, etc., what passed between them has the power to continue affecting others.
Everyone Has Their Own Personal Magnetic Field
HeartMath Institute explored touch energy exchange nearly two decades ago in its widely cited study, The Electricity of Touch: Detection and Measurement of Cardiac Energy Exchange Between People. See the study.
In the years since that study, HMI has expanded its interest to a more profound way in which energy is circulated between and among people, even in large numbers. First, it is important to remember that the various processes and systems of the human body, and, for that matter, all living things, generate electrical energy.
Everyone has their own personal magnetic field a – local field environment – around their bodies. This is because the energy our bodies generate actually radiates outward. This magnetic field has been detected and measured as far away from the body as several feet using sophisticated magnetometer technology. (HeartMath’s Global Coherence Initiative (GCI) also uses magnetometer technology in various parts of the world to monitor the earth’s magnetic fields.) It is interesting to note the magnetic field produced by the heart is more than 100 times stronger than the field the brain generates.
What you contribute to the energetic field environment has consequences, but you likely already know this. For example, when you are considerate in carefully choosing your words or avoid being too loud, critical, etc., it is because you sense how you may be affecting the people around you. Why? To name a few of the reasons, we know such actions may upset people, raise their blood pressure or perhaps set a bad example for children.
On the other hand, we know without even thinking about it that being nice to others, considering their feelings or performing some act of kindness for them is a good thing. This is illustrated by the phenomenon of situational awareness in which someone can enter a room of people and immediately sense a distinct air of tension among them. Or, we can experience the opposite effect upon joining a group where there seems to be a palpable flow of positive energy and a comfortable ease with one another.
The collective magnetic energy fields of all human beings across the world comprise a global energy field, what HeartMath calls the global information field. In this field, HMI and GCI researchers hypothesize, biologically relevant information connects all living systems. All the emotions you feel, whether positive or negative, the energy you create, and your acts of kindnesses affect your field environment. You are sharing all of it with everyone around you.
Ripple Effect of Kindness
Like the fanciful metaphor of a butterfly’s fluttering wings changing the weather thousands of miles away, or the inspiration Olympians stir in people across the world, your emotions, feelings and choices matter. If you are angry when you come home after work, there’s a good chance you will affect the moods of others in the house. That is unless, you choose to let go of your anger or if a family member’s positive energy, such as an act of kindness, helps to brighten your composure. Your energy, actions and feelings are all "feeding the field."
The distribution, intermingling and sharing of information in the global information field is part of a broader field of study HeartMath and the Global Coherence Initiative have been focused on in the last decade. It is called interconnectedness, the idea that all things are interconnected by our connections to Earth’s magnetic fields.
A final note on the ripple effect a kind act can generate comes from Random Acts of Kindness: "The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to 'pay it forward.' This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!"
Benefits of Kindness
Kindness studies over several decades have demonstrated these benefits, among many others:
- Longer lifespan
- Less stress
- Improved cardiovascular system
- Increased energy
- Improved immune system
- Lower risk for depression
- Stronger relationships
- Better performance at work and school
The Global Coherence Initiative has formulated the following hypotheses related to planetary magnetic and energetic fields.
- Human and animal health, cognitive functions, emotions and behavior are affected by planetary magnetic and energetic fields.
- The earth’s magnetic fields are carriers of biologically relevant information that connects all living systems.
- Each individual affects the global information field.
- Large numbers of people creating heart-centered states of care, love and compassion will generate a more coherent field environment that can benefit others and help offset the current planetwide discord and incoherence.
Plenty of time left for lots of kindness before World Kindness Day on Nov. 13, 2017!