Kindness, Its Importance and Impact
(Photo by Gary E. Stevenson, April 2021)
The last fourteen months have certainly been challenging and have impacted our lives in many ways. For some, far too much has been lost, economically, socially, emotionally, physically and mentally. I think it is fair to say that for many if not most, it has been trying and at times overwhelming. Our resources for coping have been stretched. I would like to share with something that touched me and may be interesting to you.
Recently, I heard of an experiment completed in 1978 with rabbits, seemingly quite straight forward and done to study the relationship between high cholesterol and health. One of the laboratory assistants who was assigned to feed the rabbits was particularly kind and nurturing and took the time to talk to and stroke the rabbits, as she fed them. Incredibly, the rabbits who were nurtured as they were fed were found to have better heart health as compared to those that were not spoken to or handled during feeding. (https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/42996338-the-rabbit-effect)
Dr. Kelli Harding, in her book “The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness,” (2019), furthered research in this area and found that this is much farther reaching than initially thought. She proposes that as individuals we need others, friendship, love, care and community. Our environments, relationships, and the purpose in our lives has a deep impact on our well-being, both physically and mentally.
Dr. Harding suggests, and I agree, that kindness impacts or lives daily in ways that are unexpected and has the potential to modify our perspective and experiences in our lives in very positive ways. In a time when it is normal to distance ourselves from others, and as a result, perhaps feel disconnected, I see the potential and importance for what Dr. Harding proposes. There is value for ourselves, our well-being and our fellow man to show kindness. Just a smile, a wave, a call, a note, any gesture of kindness has the potential to shift our focus and perception from our concerns, worries, and perhaps difficult thoughts to a much more positive place. Perhaps we might ponder the power of kindness and look for opportunities with those close to us, those with whom we may not know at all and consider ways to lift one another. I think we could all benefit from kindness as we work through what we hope are the last stages of this unique time in our world. I hope that you have found this interesting and that these ideas might help you to find more fulfillment, and perhaps a healthier and happier life as we express and show kindness for all those around us.
Harding, K. (2019). The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness. Simon and Schuster, Atria Books.