Goodness and Kindness are often treated as synonyms, but there is a big difference. Goodness is expressed in the heart; kindness is expressed in the hands. Seldom do you hear of “acts of goodness,” but “acts of kindness” are commonplace. Yet, the effect of being kind to a person are similar to those that come from being good. So, we might say: Goodness is attitude while Kindness is action.
Full-time health and fitness blogger, Maile Proctor, tells us there are several science-backed ways that being kind can affect your health. She says it all starts with the Golden Rule: Do to others as you would want them to do to you. She also points out that Goodness is sympathy, while Kindness is empathy. Every time we do something nice for someone else, it makes us feel better because it releases positive acting hormones, as well as boosting our serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being.
When this happens, being kind eases anxiety so that sudden mild nervousness or even severe panic moods are avoided. She points out in a study on happiness from the University of British Columbia found that social anxiety is associated with low positive factors that can significantly affect psychological well-being and adaptive functioning. Positive affect refers to an individual’s experience of positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness. So, the next time you feel a little nervous, look for an opportunity to be kind to someone.
Maile then tells us that Kindness releases the hormone oxytocin. According to Dr. David Hamilton, “oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates (expands) the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure, and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure).” Therefore, Kindness strengthens your heart physically and emotionally. Maybe that’s why they say nice, caring people have really big hearts?
Furthermore, helping others lets you get outside of yourself and take a break from the stressors in your own life, and this behavior can also make you better equipped to handle stressful situations.
Affiliative behavior is any behavior that builds your relationships with others. According to a study on the effects of prosocial behavior on stress, “affiliative behavior may be an important component of coping with stress and indicate that engaging in prosocial behavior (action intended to help others) might be an effective strategy for reducing the impact of stress on emotional functioning.”
And finally, inflammation in the body is associated with all sorts of health problems such as diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, obesity, and migraines. According to a study of adults aged 57-85, “volunteering manifested the strongest association with lower levels of inflammation.” Oxytocin also reduces inflammation, and even little acts of kindness can trigger oxytocin’s release. So, Kindness may be the secret tonic to a healthy, happy life.
Also, David R. Hamilton, who has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and spent four years in the pharmaceutical industry, developing drugs for cardiovascular disease and cancer. Inspired by the placebo effect, he left the industry to write books and educate people on how they can harness their minds and emotions to improve their health informs us that when we’re kind we inspire others to be kind. And studies show that it actually creates a ripple effect that spreads outwards to our friends and their friends and their friends – to 3-degrees of separation. Just as a pebble creates waves when it is dropped in a pond, so acts of kindness ripple outwards, touching others’ lives and inspiring kindness everywhere the wave goes.
But the Bible is our main source of understanding kindness. Again, keep in mind that Kindness is the action of our hands inspired by the Goodness in your heart. The prophet Zechariah was anointed by the LORD of hosts to say, “Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart” (Zechariah 7:9-10).
Then the Apostle Paul has several things to say. For instance, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). And the Apostle Peter wrote that we should make every effort to supplement our faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly kindness, and brotherly kindness with love (2 Peter 1:5-7). Also, the Apostle John adds to what Peter says about kindness with love, by pointing out that if anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:20-21).
Someone has proposed an acronym for Kindness: ARK – “Acts of Random Kindness.” Remember, it was on the Ark of the Covenant where the Mercy Seat of God was located. So, check your heart to see if you have that mercy seat where the kindness of God abides. – Dr. Robert R Seyda