Does kindness REALLY make us happy?
In brief. Yes. Experts have been studying the science of kindness for decades and much has been written about the benefits of being kind. Kindness makes us feel good, mentally and physically. Read on...
We don’t tend to think of smiling as giving something to someone, but it is probably the most simple yet powerful thing we can do to spread kindness and happiness around the world.
Smiling reduces stress that your body and mind feel, almost similar to getting a good nights sleep, according to recent studies. And smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you. That’s why we often feel happier around children – they smile more. On average, they smile 400 times a day. Whilst happy people still smile 40-50 times a day, the average person actually only smiles about 20 times a day.
One of my favourite studies into 'smiling' was the yearbook study in the USA. Researchers tracked the lives of women who had the best smiles in their yearbook photos and compared them to the rest. Women who smiled the most in their yearbook photo ended up living happier lives, had happier marriages and had fewer setbacks in life.
Even more surprising was a 2010 Wayne State University research project that examined the baseball cards photos of Major League players in 1952. The study found that the span of a player’s smile could actually predict the span of his life! Players who didn’t smile in their pictures lived an average of only 72.9 years, while players with beaming smiles lived an average of 79.9 years.
Smiling can be as stimulating as receiving up to £16,000 in cash.
Smiling makes us rich too. A smile stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match. In a study conducted in the UK (using an electromagnetic brain scan machine and heart-rate monitor to create "mood-boosting values" for various stimuli), British researchers found that one smile can provide the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 chocolate bars; they also found that smiling can be as stimulating as receiving up to 16,000 Pounds Sterling in cash.
Let's get smiling! (more than 20 times a day please...)