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Kindness, the lifestyle that prolongs your life

Kindness, the lifestyle that prolongs your life

December 01, 2021
It is always advisable to be kind, both for others and especially for ourselves, as being kind makes us feel better, inhibits the sensation of pain, including joint and muscle pain, instills calm, improves our resilience and neuroplasticity and reduces the blood pressure and even the risk of developing cardiovascular disease

Anglo-American writer Henry James once said, three things are important in life. The first is to be kind, the second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind. Kindness as a lifestyle, as a way of approaching others and life, but we are talking about authentic kindness, not the mask that you sometimes see and that immediately catches the eye as a studied and not at all spontaneous attitude. Of course, we grew up hearing that, as indicated by Darwin, in the world the strongest wins, so kindness, according to this interpretation, would have no place. But things change completely if we realize that Darwin didn't really say so, but he always spoke that the winner is whoever adapts more and is more flexible. And kindness is certainly the greatest manifestation of this attitude, much more successful. So much that even science has dedicated itself to studying the benefits of being kind, in the psyche and in the body. So let's try to understand why it is better to be kind, always, researcher's honor.

The benefits of kindness on the brain and neuroplasticity

Scientific studies (Mathers et al, Br J Gen Pract, 2016) have observed that in kind people there is an increase in activity in some brain areas, such as the temporal lobe, as well as a higher number of new neuronal connections. Therefore, kindness increases brain neuroplasticity, which is the ability of our brain to adapt to external stimuli, allows a good functioning of memory and learning processes and a fast recovery in case of trauma (Mateos et al, Front Cell Neurosci, 2019). Not only that, kindness as a lifestyle has also been shown to increase the release of endorphin and oxytocin. Endorphin is a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of self-confidence, joy, well-being and serenity. In addition, the release of endorphins inhibits pain (Dfarhud et al, Iran J Public Health, 2014). The hormone oxytocin also inhibits pain, even joint and muscle pain, has an anti-inflammatory action, reduces stress levels and increases the feeling of well-being (Ito et al, Biophys Physicobiol., 2019).

Being kind protects the heart and fights aging

Being kind, as we have seen, improves mood and these feelings of well-being have been shown to even be able to lower blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic (Ostir et al, Psychosom Med , 2006). Kindness and well-being contribute to reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, but also diabetes and diseases related to aging (Boehm et al, Health Psychol., 2011 - Richman et al, Health Psychol, 2005). In fact, these attitudes towards life increase the resilience capacity, which is the ability to face and overcome a trauma or a difficult moment, reducing recovery times and strengthening resistance to stress (Davis et al, Am J Lifestyle Med, 2010).

Kindness is self-sustaining

But does being kind mean making a continuous effort on yourself? Not really, and this is another strength of kindness. In fact, thanks to its action on the plasticity of the brain and the release of wellness hormones, kindness is self-sustaining. This means that perhaps the first day we will struggle a little to be kind, but then this effort will gradually become smaller and our kindness will support itself, becoming automatic (Mathers et al, Br J Gen Pract, 2016).

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