I found myself thinking about kindness, generosity, happiness and gratitude the last few days, and would like to share my thoughts. Although the points may seem disjointed, they aren’t to me!
I was listening to an old Wayne Dyer CD the other day in which he passed on some very uplifting information regarding kindness. The studies showed that both serotonin levels and immune function were elevated in people who were the recipients of an act of kindness. (It made no difference whether the individuals involved were strangers or friends.) That didn’t surprise me much, but subsequent discoveries did.
As you know, serotonin is the neurotransmitter found primarily in the brain and gut, which regulates mood, appetite and sleep. It’s the body’s “feel-good” drug that is largely responsible for our feelings of happiness.
The second discovery showed that the provider of the act of kindness also benefited. S/he enjoyed increased serotonin levels and immune function equal to that of the recipient.
The third, and most exciting finding of the study was that the observer of an act of kindness experienced the same serotonin rush and strengthened immune function as both the recipient and the giver – just by being in the energy field of the action!
I say those are good reasons to practice random acts of kindness. Don’t you?
Evolutionary biologists have longed believed that human evolution selects against generosity when there is no anticipated future payoff. Choosing to incur a personal cost with no prospect of a benefit or return has been seen as “maladaptive” and “irrational” by scientists.
But now, a study from the University of California indicates the opposite. A series of computer simulations showed that generosity – acting to help others in the absence of foreseeable gains – actually emerges naturally from the evolution of cooperation. This means that human generosity is more likely built in to human nature, not a result of social pressure, cultural conformity or self-interest.
Hmm… that doesn’t surprise me either.
Gratitude and Happiness
Years ago I learned that gratitude was the quickest route to happiness, and that each of us is responsible for creating the internal experience of gratitude. Creating the feeling of appreciation and happiness is, for me, an inside job, not something that is bestowed upon me from some external stimulus or event.
With that I leave you with a quote from Meister Eckhart that I love and am reminded of each year at Thanksgiving:
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
So, my friends… thank you.