The Alchemy of Kindness
Science has found that "genuine" acts of kindness can release hormones that elevate our mood and overall wellbeing, so let's dive right in and take a look at a few of these naturally occurring chemicals that can be triggered by giving or receiving acts of kindness:
Oxytocin (stimulates love hormones, making us feel more loving, connected, trusting and generous whilst lowering our blood pressure);
Dopamine (gives us that euphoric feeling) and;
Serotonin - a natural mood stabiliser which helps promote happiness and wellbeing.
So - you don't have to be Einstein to understand that those affected by conditions such as depression and low self esteem not only greatly benefit from receiving kindness but in the very act of expressing kindness to others, they are boosting an upswing in their feel good frequency. By being your own "Alchemist" in this way, you naturally elevate your mood and change your body's chemical composition, not to mention elevating the mood of the recipient of your gesture of kindness.
There is but one catch though - you have to keep doing it! Yes, that's right - in order to keep experiencing these wonderful chemical reactions in your body and thereby naturally causing yourself to feel sooo good, you have to keep giving and expressing kindness! OMG!
Think of the possibilities here. It is a known fact that repeated thoughts and actions over time are habit forming and sometimes, this is not always an attractive prospect. However, take a moment to realise that habitually generating kindness as a direct source of your own happiness and of those around you - well there is a sacred power in that! It's called Alchemy - deliberate creation and transformation.
Now, there are a couple of golden rules that should always be considered before applying the Alchemy of Kindness, so let's dive right in here:
Never force an act of kindness on someone who just does not want to receive. Use common sense and wise judgement to evaluate whether someone is in receiving mode. It is never acceptable to impose a kindness on someone just because you wish to perform a feel good deed.
Don't rely on or expect a "gratitude" outcome. Extend kindness because you want to and not because you expect an outcome of appreciation or gratitude as this may not be forthcoming. Remember, kindness is also an act of selflessness.
Be discerning as to what counts as an act of kindness. For example, suppose a friend asked you for a loan to help them out of a temporary bind but instead spent the money on an addictive habit that desecrates their wellbeing - it's not really an act of kindness to provide the loan as you are ultimately not helping them and in fact, you may be perpetuating a problem for them.
With that said, on the whole, kindness is the gift that just keeps on giving and it also has the capacity to inspire people to "pay it forward". Everyone is a winner in this case and if we can keep it going, it grows in magnitude and shines like a beacon in the collective human consciousness.