When you do something kind, do you notice how it makes you feel? It is addicting to say the least. Have you ever wondered why? Our brains release dopamine and oxytocin when we perform an act of kindness. These hormones “reward” us for our behavior.
LiveStrong.com states that:
“Dopamine regulates a variety of functions within your brain and body. It helps to regulate blood flow through the arteries, modulates eating habits, contributes to learning and high cognitive functioning, reinforces behavior and regulates motor activity. It is also involved in regulating the secretion of hormones from the pituitary gland and contributes to the function of the autonomic nervous system.”.
Dopamine helps us to form habits by reinforcing behavior. We have to decide for ourselves what sort of habits we want to get in to. Have you ever heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect?” That is only half true. If we practice something incorrectly, we will never get better at it. Instead think, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” So, practice kindness regularly. Then it will be easier to be kind without practicing.
“New studies are adding to a body of literature that shows oxytocin plays a key role in maternal bonding and social affiliation-what Taylor has labeled the “tend and befriend” response, as opposed to the “fight or flight” response. In line with years of animal research linking oxytocin to mothers’ ability to care for their infants, a study in the November Psychological Science (Vol. 18, No. 11, pages 965-970), demonstrates this association for the first time in people.”
So this means that oxytocin helps us form bonds with other people. It also helps us to want to stay and help vs. run away. Isn’t it amazing that our bodies are hard wired so that we will want to be kind?
It’s not just the act of being kind that produces these hormones. Being the one that receives the kindness is just as rewarding. It still doesn’t stop there. It seems that even just witnessing the act or event can cause these hormones to kick in. This is what causes the ripple effect of kindness.
You never know who you may inspire to be kind. Go forth and Generate Kindness.