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When you do something nice for someone else, it can actually make you feel better too. This isn’t just something that happens coincidentally – it has to do with the pleasure centres in your brain. Doing nice things for others boosts your serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Like exercise, altruism also releases endorphins, a phenomenon known as a “helper’s high” (1).

Being nice to others can also affect the actual chemical balance of your heart. Kindness releases the hormone oxytocin. According to David Hamilton, a doctor and best-selling author, “oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart.” Oxytocin also helps reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the body can be associated with all sorts of health problems such as diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, obesity, and migraines. Kindness can actually help manage or prevent illness (2).

Not only that, but in our busy, always-on-the-go lives, we’re constantly looking for ways to reduce stress, and kindness may be one answer. Helping others allows you to step outside of yourself and take a break from the stressors in your own life, and this behaviour can also make you better equipped to handle stressful situations (3).

Acts of Kindness can be as simple as holding the door open for a stranger, smiling at people around you, donating money to a charity, or doing a work colleague a small favour. If someone thanks you, ask them to just “pay it forward” by doing something for others.



1 https://www.quietrev.com/6-science-backed-ways-being-kind-is-good-for-your-health/

2 http://drdavidhamilton.com/the-5-side-effects-of-kindness/




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Finding the Silver Lining

We all react to different problems in different ways. Ever noticed that some people can stay calm under adversity while others are obviously stressed out? One of the best ways to help change your emotional response to a bad situation, is something called cognitive reappraisal.

Cognitive Reappraisal is:

1) attending to the emotional situation, which will elicit an automatic judgment of the situation,

2) a cognitive re-evaluation of the situation in a more neutral or positive direction.

What happens when you take a split second to cast a better light on an otherwise dark situation is that you can actually upend your emotional experience entirely. What was once an idiotic, reckless driver, is now a guy just trying to get to work on time. What was once a bad interview, is now good experience and something to improve on next time. Studies have demonstrated that the use of cognitive reappraisal can change how you view the emotional experience very quickly, and even decrease the physical effects of emotion on the body. For example, anger typically causes your  heart rate, respiration, and skin conductance levels to elevate, but upon reappraisal, these responses don’t spike nearly as highly.

An effective way to do this is to create a Catastrophe Scale. Form your scale of how bad things are from 1 to 10 – 10 being the worst possible thing that could ever happen and 1 being something mediocre. Refer to this scale to get a bigger picture of how bad the situation currently is.

Here’s some examples:  

1 – getting caught in a rainstorm while on your way to work

2 – kid fails a test at school

3 – work presentation doesn’t go as well as you hoped

4 – car breaks down and you’re late for work

5 – miss a very important business meeting or job interview

6 – doctor says that you have high blood pressure

7 – broken limb and it interferes with work

8 – losing a close relationship/marriage/friendship

9 – someone you love dying

10 – whole family dies in front of you and having to witness it in a war-torn country

Obviously, the circumstances surrounding all of these can be personal to you. But the point of a catastrophe scale is to step back and see the bigger picture and use it as a reference point whenever times call for it.