611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

member support line
M-F 5pm-8pm
24/7 weekends/holidays

AzCH Nurse Assist Line


611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

AzCH Nurse Assist Line


powered by centersite dot net
Wellness and Personal Development
Basic InformationLatest News
Even a Little Light in Your Bedroom Could Harm HealthWant Respect at Work? Ditch the EmojisAs Clocks Spring Forward, Keep Sleep on TrackSleep Experts Call for End to Twice-a-Year Time ChangesHigh Anxiety: Poll Finds Americans Stressed by Inflation, WarYour Houseplants May Help You Breathe EasierAHA News: Ready to 'Spring Forward'? Ease Into the Time Change With These 9 Health TipsSome Americans Gained Better Habits During Pandemic, Poll FindsStressed Out by Ukraine News? Experts Offer Coping TipsBegin Now to Protect Your Heart as Clocks 'Spring Forward'AHA News: Break Up Binge-Watching by Taking a StandApps: They Help Manage Health Conditions, But Few Use Them, Poll FindsLifestyle Factors Key to Keeping Good Vision With AgeExercise Helps You Sleep, But Which Workout Is Best?Fitbit Recalls Over 1 Million Smartwatches Due to Burn HazardAHA News: Understanding 'Black Fatigue' – And How to Overcome ItPandemic Didn't Dent Americans' Optimism, Polls FindHuman Brain Doesn't Slow Down Until After 60AHA News: Does Kindness Equal Happiness and Health?Apps Can Help Keep Older Folks Healthy — But Most Don't Use ThemAHA News: Want a Healthier Valentine's Day? More Hugs and KissesStudy Hints That Cutting Daily Calories Could Extend Healthy Life SpanHow Healthy Is Your State? New Federal Data Ranks EachMidwinter Blues Could Be SAD: An Expert Guide to TreatmentsSpice Up Your Meal to Avoid More SaltSearching for Good Sleep? Here's What You're Doing Right - and WrongPandemic Worsening Americans' Already Terrible Sleep, Poll Finds​AHA News: Fine-Tune Your Health With These 5 Music IdeasMelatonin's Popularity Rises, Along With Hidden DangersAHA News: Healthy Living Could Offset Genetics and Add Years Free of Heart DiseaseCould Everyday Plastics Help Make You Fat?Take These Winter Workout Tips to HeartStay Safe When Winter Storms Cut Your PowerAHA News: Sound the Fiber Alarm! Most of Us Need More of It in Our DietExtra 10 Minutes of Daily Activity Could Save 110,000 U.S. Lives AnnuallyWinter Blues? It Could Be SADOrdering Groceries Online? Good Luck Finding Nutrition InfoBinge-Watching Could Raise Your Blood Clot RiskDon't Snow Shovel Your Way to a Heart AttackCelebrities' Social Media Promotes Junk Food, Often for FreeWill Reading Books Make You Any Happier?Zoom Meeting Anxiety Doesn't Strike EveryoneDid Adding Calorie Counts to Restaurant Menus Make Meals Healthier?AHA News: Here's to a Fresh Start With Whatever You Do in '22Do You Have 'COVID-somnia'? These Sleep Tips Might HelpMake 2022 Your Year for a Free Memory ScreeningNew Year's Resolution? Here's How to Make it Stick12 Steps to the Best Holiday Gift: HealthAmericans Turning to Trendy Diets to Shed Pandemic PoundsAHA News: Can the Cold Really Make You Sick?
LinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Anger Management
Stress Reduction and Management

AHA News: Does Kindness Equal Happiness and Health?

HealthDay News
Updated: Feb 15th 2022

new article illustration

TUESDAY, Feb. 15, 2022 (American Heart Association News) -- Could kindness be a magic elixir that makes us happier – and healthier?

Research suggests acts of kindness like donating money, volunteering and mentoring can boost the giver's emotional health, but science also is studying how altruism improves physical health.

Acts of kindness can take many forms, especially amid Random Acts of Kindness Week from Feb. 13-19. It can be as simple as holding a door for someone, to a commitment like donating blood or starting a fundraiser. (The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has many ideas to get you going.)

The main takeaway is they promote social connection, said Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside. That's especially important during the pandemic as people have become more isolated.

"They can strengthen relationships, help you make new friends, give you a more positive, optimistic outlook and enable you to feel good about yourself," said Lyubomirsky.

Even just recalling acts of kindness could promote well-being. Lyubomirsky led a 2019 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology showing that when participants recalled hugging a grandparent or buying lunch for a co-worker, for instance, their well-being improved as much as when they performed the act.

Some research studies link kindness with the release of neurotransmitters and hormones that contribute to mood and well-being. Waguih William IsHak, professor and clinical chief of psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, said the hormone oxytocin in particular benefits overall wellness because of its anti-inflammatory, pro-immunity and anti-stress effects.

"Kindness, whether it is experienced through performing random acts of kindness, loving kindness meditation or other means, has a profound impact on one's well-being," said IsHak.

Researchers also are studying how altruism improves physical health in measurable ways, such as lowering blood pressure or strengthening the immune system. One study showed spending money on others improved the cardiovascular health of at-risk older adults diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Another study looked at gene expression, the process that enables a cell to respond to its changing environment, and examined changes linked to long-term physical health outcomes. That research concluded that incorporating "small acts of kindness" into a daily routine could positively alter gene regulation.

"Few studies have shown causal mechanisms between prosocial behavior and improvements in biological processes," said Lyubomirsky, one the authors of the 2017 study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. "Our findings point to possible changes in the immune markers that influence disease development or resistance."

Do all acts of kindness benefit givers equally?

Lara Aknin, director of the Helping and Happiness Lab at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, said emotional rewards are stronger when people give in ways that are socially connected.

Aknin led a review of research examining when and how generous actions are most likely to boost happiness, and when they are not. The analysis, published in 2020 in Social Issues and Policy Review, weighed the happiness impact of altruism using three motivation factors – autonomy, competence and relatedness – and concluded that the most rewarding experiences are those you voluntarily choose to perform (as opposed to be being compelled to), those in which you see your efforts make a positive impact, and those that connect you with other people.

"People tend to get more out of prosocial behavior when they give in a face-to-face manner and can see how their gift helped someone in need," said Aknin, who also is associate professor of psychology.

Her review also suggests how organizations and public policy can make prosocial actions more emotionally rewarding, suggesting that even paying taxes could be more satisfying if payers were given more positive feedback about the people and initiatives their tax dollars impact.

Researchers also want to measure the durability of the happiness we get from acts of kindness, Aknin said. We feel good right after acting generously and when we recall it, but how long does that last?

"We need large studies to test that," she said. "While we don't know the longevity of a single act, we do know there is a positive feedback loop between generosity and kindness. Giving makes people happier, and happier people are more likely to give."

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

By Catherine S. Williams