November 13th 2014 was World Kindness Day. It was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement. The purpose of World Kindness Day is to highlight good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us. Kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition which can bridge the divides of race religion, politics, gender and post codes.
Helping others has both psychological and physical benefits. Many studies have shown that people who act unselfishly are typically happier in terms of life satisfaction, their will to live and suffer from depression much less than selfish people. Volunteers tend to suffer less ill health and live longer and, sometimes just being aware of the kindness in oneself, can lead to a greater sense of well-being. MRI scans show acts of kindness activate a part of the brain called the subgenual cortex, a part of the brain associated with attachment and bonding. Being kind causes the brain to release endorphins – pleasure chemicals – so, doing good things makes us feel good in return.
It is important to note that, while research supports the idea that altruistic acts bring about happiness, it has also been found to work in the opposite direction – that happier people are also kinder. The relationship between altruistic behaviour and happiness seems to be bidirectional – happy people tend to be kind and kind people tend to be happy.
At Minsthorpe we have spent this week considering the plight of others less fortunate than ourselves and have been doing things to raise money to help them. There have been many events going on all week as part of our Charity Fundraising Week organised by the Student Council to coincide with World Kindness Day and Children in Need.
Generous acts make people feel good about themselves and people on the receiving end of generosity feel grateful and this also goes hand-in-hand with well-being. So let’s try to overlook the things that can divide us and try to be kind to one another as the very act of doing this can affect our own happiness in a profound way.