by Michael Corthell
''This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.''
Kindness is defined by most folks as a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as something of high social value in almost all cultures and religions.
What does kindness mean to you? Am I kind enough in this topsy-turvy world? Is it even possible to practice kindness consistently?
Everyone has heard the Golden Rule, (at least I think they have)but not everyone takes it to heart. Kindness often gets overlooked as a sign of weakness, and to an extent, it can be—there is such a thing as being too nice. But a little kindness can still go a long way.
First of all, being kind is good for you. It is actually healthy for you in the biological sense. A recent study found that there may be some connection with positive thoughts of kindness and social contact with the body's vagus nerve. The vagus regulates how efficiently heart rate changes with breathing and, in general, the greater its tone, the higher the heart-rate variability and the lower the risk for cardiovascular disease and other major killers. It may also play a role in regulating glucose levels and immune responses, The vagus is intimately tied to how we connect with one another—it links directly to nerves that tune our ears to human speech, coordinate eye contact and regulate emotional expressions.
Being kind can also make you happier. It feels good to be nice and help others and it can physically make you feel happier. There is a chemical reason for that.
When a person performs an act of kindness the brain produces dopamine, associated with positive thinking. Secondly, the brain has its own natural versions of morphine and heroine: endogenous opioids, such as endorphins. It is believed that when a person does an act of kindness they feel good on a chemical level thanks to the production of these endogenous opioids.
That was a brief summary of just some of the science behind kindness. Now let's see kindness in action.
The Kindness Boomerang