Being nice is good for your health?
Stress reduction or brain transformation: The benefits of kindness could be the secret of happy and healthy people.
To help a neighbor, to visit a sick parent, to leave a place in transport, to hold a door or simply to smile, to thank ... These attentions are synonymous with empathy and mutual help, and we may have forgotten, they are natural.
The innate empathy of toddlers has also been observed. At one year, if a child sees someone in difficulty, he will spontaneously help him. Later, as adults, we now know, thanks to medical imaging, that when we are generous the areas of satisfaction and reward of our brain are activated, while conversely they are those of the disgust that starts when we face an injustice. Everything is orchestrated as if we were programmed to be good and generous. In fact, only a small percentage of people would not have this propensity for empathy because of a neurophysiological disease (psychopaths, for example). No wonder, then, that the kindest people everyday are also those who consider themselves the happiest.
Less stressed and more fulfilled
Studies show that when we act generously, we secrete more serotonin, the hormone of good humor that helps to limit aggression. Good actions also improve our immunity by reducing stress. In fact, when we are energized, we produce more cortisol, one of the stress hormones, which, in the long run, impacts all our health starting with our immune system. Mutual aid is also a bulwark against loneliness and its misdeeds. We know for example that social relations preserve the brain and heart and are a guarantee of longevity. In a study conducted with a group of volunteers, they did feel that they had a better quality of life and a better self-esteem. They were less depressed than normal and seemed less concerned about Alzheimer's disease.
Altruism seems to actually benefit the brain as a whole. Following a meeting with the Dalai Lama thirteen years ago, Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist, has embarked on the study of compassion. After two weeks of empathy training (through thought-provoking meditation), the brain is transformed: Connections between the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain related to compassion make us more intuitive and more able to feel the suffering of the other. Would good deeds make us smarter? In any case, positive and benevolent approaches certainly express the best of us. In the United States, elementary school children who received emotion-based education and social and peer education received 10% above average math and reading scores. Other American studies also show that sociable and caring children are more popular, better at school and better in their skin (less anxiety and depression in particular).
Have heart, good for the heart
We now know that our heart is not just a muscle, but a kind of second brain that contains some 40,000 neurons. Our heart therefore reacts particularly to emotions, even more than the brain, with which it has close relations. While negative thoughts such as resentment increase heart rate and blood pressure, generosity and forgiveness lower physiological stress and calm the heart. If these virtues have convinced you, know that the more kindness is contagious - when we see someone doing a good action, we aspire to do the same - and it causes success: "Pleasant and generous people have more successful than those who are greedy and selfish, thanks to the principle of reciprocity, "says David Rand, a researcher at Yale University in the United States. Give, you will receive a hundredfold!
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