Brain Bulletin 106 - How to Make Your Brain 41.66% Happier

in Brain Bulletin

We all know we should be kind to others - our families, co-workers, neighbours, strangers. Everyone benefits.

It turns out though, that the one who benefits the most is probably you. 

Pablo Casals once said, "The capacity to care is what gives life its most deepest significance." 

Indeed, kindness has a big impact on the lives of others, and it makes us feel good. But you may not know how much being kind benefits your mental and physical health.

To start with, kindness makes our brains happier. A University of California study assigned people to do five random acts of kindness per day for six weeks, their happiness levels increased 41.66 percent.  

Consider these researched benefits of kindness as well:

  • Contributes to the maintenance of good health. (Luks)
  • Diminishes the effect of physical and psychological illness.
  • Releases endorphins, you body's natural painkiller.
  • Improves emotional well-being. 
  • Changes brain chemistry. (University of Wisconsin) 
  • Elevated levels of dopamine, "Helper's High". (Hamilton)
  • Produces oxytocin which protects your heart, and reduces inflammation. 
  • Slows down the aging process.
  • Improves relationships.
  • And maybe best of all, kindness is contagious.  

When we look at kindness through the lens of neuroplasticity we are reminded that brains get good at what they do. The more we are kind, the easier it is to produce that behaviour in the future. So here are few suggests to try:

  • Smile more. It makes a strong impression of kindness.
  • Compliment others more, and really mean it.
  • Look for small opportunities. A few words may seem insignificant. They're not. Little things take you far in life. 
  • When you get up in the morning pick one person to focus on. Make it a different person as often as possible.
  • And be kind to yourself. It's hard to help others unless you are kind to you. 

So be kind, and your brain and body will thank you.

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu

If you need one more reason, consider this:

    Brain Bulletin #97 - Is Negative Thinking Bad for Your Brain?

Remember, always be a little kinder than necessary.

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My favourite book this month was "The 5 Side Effects of Kindness" by Dr. David Hamilton. Inspiring and practical!

It's been a busy time for me. Sorry to take so long to get this Bulletin out.

I did 99 presentations last year. Whew. It's a good thing I love my job. And best of all, I finished the year with a 2 week "brain break" on the Baja. A great opportunity to carry out the "neural-trash".

This January, I was honoured to speak to B.C. Hydro, the City of Coquitlam, and Abbotsford Community Services. I also created a new presentation called, "Health & Safety with Your Brain in Mind". Safety is job #1. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this Brain Bulletin. I know you are busy. 

Terry Small, "the Brain Guy", Independent Scholar & Learning Skills Specialist.

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