5 (Not So Obvious) Reasons to Be Nice to People

Did you know that people who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains?!

Jan 25, 2019

(Yuliya Evstratenko / Shutterstock.com)

We all know the golden rule: treat people how you’d like to be treated. Although, it may sound more like pop psychology, treating people kindly actually does make you happier. In fact, kindness pays off in all kinds of surprising ways from reducing anxiety naturally to living longer.

Kindness Makes You Happier

The Universities of Oxford and Bournemouth teamed up to take a look at the effects of treating others with kindness. Researchers reviewed over 400 published papers and found 21 studies that indicated the link between happiness and kindness.

Lead author, Dr. Oliver Scott Curry, from the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford, elaborates, “This research suggests that people do indeed derive satisfaction from helping others. This is probably because we genuinely care about others' welfare, and because random acts of kindness are a good way of making new friends, and kick-starting supportive social relationships.”

Kindness Helps You Live Longer

Want to know the secret to longevity? Turns out that a little kindness can go a long way and even increase your lifespan. Sociologist and senior fellow at UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter, Ph.D. shares her insight:

“People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early… This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.”

Kindness Reduces Anxiety

If you suffer from anxiety, try being nicer to the people around you. Socially anxious people who engage in kind acts actually feel more relaxed around other people, according to a study at the University of British Columbia. Researchers observed a group of socially anxious people who performed at least six acts of kindness each week.

After one month, the participants reported a noticeable improvement in their mood, relationship satisfaction, and a decrease in social avoidance.

Kindness Improves Heart Health

It turns out that kindness can quite literally keep you young at heart. Acts of kindness make us feel emotional warmth. which stimulate the release of the hormone, oxytocin, along with a chemical, nitric oxide. Both protect the heart by expanding the blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.

Kindness Is Learnable

Kindness not only helps the heart muscle but works a bit like a muscle, too. A report published in Psychological Science explores how we can actually train ourselves to become kinder people.

“It’s kind of like weight training. We found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help,” says Dr. Ritchie Davidson, University of Wisconsin.

ALLISON MICHELLE DIENSTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR
Working from her laptop as a freelance writer, Allison lives as a digital nomad, exploring the world while sharing positivity and laughter. She is a lover of language, travel, music, and creativity with a degree in Chinese language and literature.