Have you ever heard the phrase, “Kindness is contagious”? Most sayings like this are widely known because they are based on truth. Research has found scientific evidence that kindness can spread in different ways. Surely you have experienced or witnessed cases where someone has paid them forward or a movement has spread because of a person’s good deed. In my contribution today I would like to explore this concept further and show you how far-reaching the concept of helping others can be.
Benefits for donors and recipients
Everyone benefits from arbitrary acts of kindness. The giver feels good and gets that “helper’s high” by making an effort to brighten someone else’s day. The recipient enjoys the surprise of an unsolicited positive effort. We all appreciate it when someone is nice to us. These good feelings tend to create a cycle, because those involved want to continue to feel good. The giver gets a rush from helping someone and will often be motivated in various ways to pass it on. The recipient wants to share the rewards he or she has just gained. He may feel obliged to “pay it forward”, but he knows that he will also experience a reward.
Observers also experience benefits
Even if you are not directly involved in an act of kindness, you can benefit from it. There is a phenomenon known as “moral elevation” which ensures that good deeds will spread. It works by creating positive feelings when certain events are triggered in the peripheral and central nervous system. These neurophysical connections are made when someone witnesses or hears about an act of kindness or a feel-good story. The high or euphoric feeling that one then gets motivates one to want to do something good as well, thus maintaining the pay-it-forward cycle.
Evidence in the theory of social learning
Social learning theory is the study of the way in which groups interact. Its core principles are based on the fact that people will behave in a similar way to how they see people in their peer group or how their families behave. It is a kind of “monkey see, monkey do” or “birds of a feather” philosophy. Therefore, if children grow up in a family where kindness and compassion are the norm, they are more likely to show these qualities. Just as teachers demonstrate and emphasize a core philosophy of goodness to their students, this standard will become the norm in the classroom. Friendliness is essentially contagious when groups continually exhibit such behavior.
You can make a difference in your little corner of the world by simply performing random acts of kindness. Science and centuries of anecdotal evidence support this. Be the change you wish for and encourage the people around you to do good deeds. You’ll begin to see an impact.
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