HealthThe helping 'rush': how being kind can make you happy | ...

    The helping ‘rush’: how being kind can make you happy | Health & Wellness

    Being nice is good for your health. This is the conclusion of a study that ensures that behavioral kindness has beneficial psychological effects not only for those who receive it but also for those who put it into practice. A compliment, a smile, or a casual chat could work as a social lubricant while also keeping the engine of happiness idling.

    “These are acts that can be carried out without implying great effort or sacrifice,” said Professor Olga Bialobrzeska, lead author of the study, carried out by the Warsaw University of Social Sciences (Poland), in an email exchange. “It’s a casual kindness, without cost. Simple everyday gestures like having a friendly chat with the neighbor, being nice to a clerk in a store or asking a co-worker how she’s doing,” she explains.

    Scientific literature has analyzed in recent years the effects of so-called random acts of kindness, but encompassing very different behaviors, from greeting someone to donating a generous sum to an NGO. Here we wanted to analyze superficial kindness, related more to warmth than to morality. Not so much being a good person as appearing to be: the joke of the typical murderer who “always said hello”, according to his neighbors, could fit this definition.

    “In each of our interactions, whether with acquaintances, strangers, or family members, we can choose to be friendly, neutral, or unfriendly,” Bialobrzeska explains. “Our research shows that when you do the former, you tend to feel better, to be in a better mood.” To prove this, during the study, they forced the participants to do small acts of casual kindness. After a few days, many of them came out involuntarily, demonstrating that once the initial reluctance is overcome, they become daily acts. When it comes to being nice, the maxim of faking it until you get it works. At least most of the time.

    Against the emotional effort

    Being nice can be good, but being overly nice is terrible. “The feigned kindness that we exercise towards a person towards whom we feel aversion, can harm our own health,” agrees Bialobrzeska. “We have not analyzed it in this study, but there is previous scientific literature. A study analyzed the mood of telemarketers who have to be friendly all day, even to customers who are not friendly to them, ”she explains. “The majority claimed to finish the day exhausted by the emotional effort.”

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    This is the third study on kindness carried out by Bialobrzeska’s team. They carried out another theoretical and one more during the beginning of the pandemic. At that time, part of our social activity went from the physical to the virtual world, but the expert believes that, in matters of kindness, there are no great differences between the two. That’s why, she explains, it’s especially important to be nice online. “Now, when social polarization is a growing problem in many countries, fueled by networks, it is essential to educate people on how to express their opinions, points of view, criticism or disagreement in a pleasant and respectful way. Otherwise, we are going to face a further growth of polarization and hate speech”.

    It is essential to educate people on how to express their opinions online in a pleasant and respectful way.

    Olga Bialobrzeska, Warsaw University of Social Sciences

    Kindness has not only been studied from a psychological point of view, but also from a hormonal one, reducing our good deeds to a matter of chemistry. Most of the research has focused on oxytocin, a hormone involved in forming social bonds and trust in other people. This hormone would explain why being kind makes us feel better, although in some cases the release of dopamine would also be involved, a chemical messenger that can trigger a feeling of euphoria. This is known by the explicit name of high of which helps Studies show that volunteering or donating money (even just thinking about it) activates the part of the brain that is normally stimulated by pleasures like food and sex. Being a good person, sometimes, is a matter of selfishness.

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    Gillian Sandstrom was a young university student in England in the 1990s. One morning, she had a flat tire on her bike, and since she had no money for a taxi, she was forced to drag it a few kilometers, to the nearest garage. Along the way, a college classmate, a slightly older girl she barely knew, saw her, stopped her car, and offered to drive her to her garage. “It happened 30 years ago,” now recalls Dr. Sandstrom, who has become one of the foremost experts in the science of kindness. “But I haven’t forgotten. The fact that he took the time to do that for me marked me a lot, ”she says.

    Are women kinder?

    Sandstrom is a professor of psychology at the University of Sussex. And she was the architect of the test of kindness (The Kindness Test), the largest study on kindness ever conducted. More than 60,000 people participated in a project that served as the basis for a series of BBC reports. Their results, in line with those of Bialobrzeska, suggest that kinder people tend to experience higher levels of well-being and life satisfaction. There are other remarkable data: two thirds of those surveyed think that the pandemic has made people kinder; almost 60% of the participants reported having received an act of kindness in the previous 24 hours, and women are more likely to perceive and perform acts of kindness.

    “It’s a sensitive issue that doesn’t have a simple answer,” reflects Bialobrzeska when asked about a kindness gender gap. It may be that women tend to perceive it and demonstrate it more easily “because it has traditionally been considered a feminine activity,” she adds. But this social norm has a dark side to it: “A woman raised to always be friendly and smiling may be hiding her anger and frustration. And this can cause her not to attend to her needs when they conflict with those of others ”.

    Intellectuals like Barbara Ehrenreich have abounded in this idea. in his essay Smile or die. The positive thinking trap, denounced that kindness serves as a coercive tool. More recently, Sarah Ahmed, author of the promise of happinesspatented the figure of the feminist killjoy, by ensuring that feminist, anti-racist and LGTBI struggles, when made public, become disruptive to collective well-being and that smiling and kindness serve as an excuse to delegitimize anger and criticism. In this sense, Bialobrzeska believes that being kind is not at odds with being firm. “You don’t have to give up your opinions or your assertiveness, you can practice the skill of doing it nicely,” she says.

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    Sandstrom agrees, adding that, in any case, “the factor that best predicts how nice you are to others (and how nice they are to you) is not your gender, but your personality.” People who were more outgoing, open, and likeable reported giving and receiving more kindness. This conclusion would make sense, since the biggest obstacle that the interviewees point out when it comes to being kind is shame or the fear that their actions will be misinterpreted. Being an outgoing person can help you to be kinder and that, in the long run, to be happier.

    In any case, the expert points out, this is something that can be educated. She considers herself an “extraordinarily introverted” person and almost every day she talks to a stranger on the subway, an activity that she gives a good account of. on his Twitter profile. Drawing on his experience, he encourages people to smile and be kind. And if we look at the data, that’s exactly what pretty much everyone is doing. According to a 2019 study by Goldsmiths University of London, 98% of citizens consider themselves to be kinder than the national average. Are nice above our possibilities. And as mathematically possible.

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    Source: EL PAIS

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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