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some references to read if you would like to know more about kindness and compassion

salar de uyuni, bolivia

Studies have demonstrated the many positive effects of Kindness and Compassion

Increased Happiness and Good Feelings – Intentionally cultivating kindness and compassion strengthens circuits in the brain for pleasure and reward and leads to a lasting increases in happiness. Acts of compassion and kindness (like volunteering for charity) cause elevated levels of dopamine in the brain which creates a natural high, often referred to as ‘Helper’s High’. (1)

Strengthened Immune System and a Healthier Heart – the emotional warmth associated with kindness produces the hormone oxytocin in the brain and throughout the body. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which expands the blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. Being kind and compassionate lowers our heart rate, and makes us more resilient to stress by lowering our stress hormones. (2)

Oxytocin reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system and slows ageing. (3)

Better relationships – kindness and compassion foster a strong sense of connection, and can help us be less vulnerable to loneliness which has been shown to cause stress and harm the immune system. When we feel compassion, regions of our brain linked to empathy, caregiving, and feelings of pleasure light up. The result is often the feeling wanting to approach and care for other people, and the ability to understand the perspective of another person, which are linked to long term relationship satisfaction, as well as forgiveness. (4)

Kindness is contagious – when we’re kind, we inspire others to be kind. Studies show that it actually creates a ripple effect that spreads outwards to our friends’ friends’ friends – to 3-degrees of separation. (5)

Employees who receive more compassion in their workplace see themselves, their co-workers, and their organization in a more positive light, report feeling more positive emotions like joy and contentment, and are more committed to their jobs. (6)

Loving-kindness meditations increase feelings of social connectedness and positivity towards new people. (7)

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(1) (Source: David R. Hamilton, PHD, Functional Neural Plasticity and Associated Changes in Positive Affect After Compassion Training 2013 & Practicing Compassion Increases Happiness and Self-Esteem 2011)

(2) (Source: David R. Hamilton, PHD, Effect of compassion meditation on neuroendocrine, innate immune and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress 2008)

(3) (Source: David R. Hamilton, PHD & Oxytocin Attenuates NADPH-Dependent Superoxide Activity and IL-6 Secretion in Macrophages and Vascular Cells 2008 & Effect of compassion meditation on neuroendocrine, innate immune and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress 2008)

(4) (Source: David R. Hamilton, PHD) (Davis & Oathout, 1987)(McCullough, 1997, 2001).

(5) (Source: David R. Hamilton, PHD)

(6)  (Source: Compassion Across Cubicles 2006)

(7) (Loving-Kindness Meditation Increases Social Connectedness 2008)

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