Lifeflowbalance Blog

Only a cynic would argue that kindness was not a good thing- and yes, sadly, there are powerful examples of this elk among us. Positive psychology has set out to create evidence-based strategies for increasing the quotient of happiness and wellbeing in the world and ask the teasing question: can we develop a science of kindness that can lead to positive societal change?

The ‘power’ of kindness

Consider the following findings reported by Dr Lee Rowland, Chartered Psychologist:
  • Kindness reduces anxiety: Socially anxious participants who engaged in acts of kindness for four weeks showed a decrease in social avoidance goals. The authors concluded: ‘Engaging in acts of kindness is an effective way to reduce state-level social anxiety.’
  • Nice guys finish first: Across three experiments, in a social dilemma game where participants could either benefit themselves or their group, the most altruistic members gained the highest status in their group. The authors reported: ‘Our findings unequivocally show that altruistic group members received more status. They were more respected, held in higher esteem, and were more likely to be chosen as group leaders.’
  • Empathy reduces the common cold: In a randomised-controlled trial, patients who rated their clinicians as showing greater empathy had reduced common-cold severity and duration and increases in immune response levels.
  • Giving time gives you more time: Participants in a study spent their time writing and mailing a letter to a gravely ill child. Later that day, they perceived they had more time to themselves than did controls.
  • Spending on others is good for your heart: Participants with high blood pressure were randomly assigned to spend payments on themselves or on other people. Those who spent money on others exhibited decreased blood pressure over the course of the study. The magnitude of the effect was comparable to antihypertensive medication or exercise.

(Source Lee Rowland Kindness – society’s golden chain? BPS online.)

He makes the point that each of these startling results have all been published as experimental studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
He goes on to show however that measuring kindness and finding provable correlation between acts of kindness and improved wellbeing is difficult and not yet firmly established. The studies do not use the same methodology, lack consistency across the field and do not use commonly agreed definitions of what we mean by kindness, for example, take into account that one person's act of kindness may be another person's being patronised.

Whether or not there is overwhelming scientific evidence in favour of a science of kindness we know from our everyday lived experience that being kind and receiving kindness, when it comes from a place of shared respect, is a force for good.

So with this in mind click here to make a that you can work on from now until November 13th next year. You will find resources at the end of the link for Individuals, Schools and Businesses/Organisations. Something here to inspire everyone.