The festive season will soon be upon us. It can be one of excitement and fun or tension and expectation. You may be deeply connected to your religious beliefs at this time, or feel that you are part of something greater than yourself or simply time to have a break and a holiday. It is a time for many to travel, visit with family, friends, and enjoy the celebration and connection. One area that I love during the festive season is decorating my home. It is always done on the first day of December and I take time to look at the objects that I place around the house to remember the person who gave me the item or where I was when I bought it. It brings me great joy and I smile all day with such fond memories. As an expat and also work that I have done in that past, there have been times when I found myself on my own at this time of the year. That may be true of many people. When I was on my own, I would always reflect on what the year had been like, where I had been, who I had met and there was a feeling of being connected to others.
There has been excellent research done over many decades on how people feel with acts of kindness. The Christian festive season and other religious festivals have times when it is important to be in touch with those less fortunate than yourself or to open the doors of your home and invite others to share meals with you and your family. Did you know that we have chemical changes in the body when we are pleasant, happy, and joyful, plus, when we have “acts of kindness” to others? This can and has been measured medically and scientifically. One study by Emroy University in UK, Ron Breazeale PhD in Psychology Today.
What are these chemical changes and hormones and what do they do?
There are four primary chemicals in the brain that affect happiness: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. By designing gamified experiences that activate these chemicals, you can increase happiness and loyalty. According to Dr. David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness create emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone.
Pain – kindness releases endorphins in the brain.
Stress – kind people age slower and have lower stress that the average person.
Anxiety and depression – kindness improves mood, depression and anxiety.
Kindness stimulates the production of serotonin which heals wounds, calms and increases happiness.
If we are all connected, which I believe we are, all 7.7 billion of us on this beautiful planet we call earth, our home, how can we help each other. One way is through acts of kindness and acts of kindness come in many and varied ways. It can be overwhelming to think about it, however, it may start with smiling at someone a total stranger, to helping someone with a grocery bag, helping someone with a pram, or listening to someone and not offering any advice. Giving them your full attention. I’m sure most people reading this article are part of wonderful acts of kindness, from smiling at someone, or giving an older person a seat on the train or bus, but there has to be more than that.
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