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Small Acts of Kindness

Do you realize that there are long term health benefits from being kind?

Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change

- Bob Kerrey

Research shows that people who engage in kind acts become happier over time. When we do something for someone else, we feel good. Studies indicate that these feelings cause elevated levels of dopamine in the brain, resulting in a natural high, sometimes referred to as "helper's high."

Kindness leads to healthier hearts. The emotional warmth that accompanies kind acts releases the hormone oxytocin in the brain and throughout the body. This causes the release of nitric oxide in the blood vessels, resulting in dilation, which reduces blood pressure. Oxytocin also reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system.

Kindness is contagious. The ripple effect it creates reduces the emotional distance between people, strengthening relationships and making us feel more bonded.

Here are a dozen ways to make your day, as well as someone else's:

- be nice on the road

- help with directions even when you're rushing

- give your seat to an elderly person

- hold a door open for someone

- say good morning

- let someone go in front of you in line

- return a shopping cart

- give someone a compliment

- make a positive comment on a website or blog

- visit someone who is lonely

- write a letter to someone who made a difference in your life

- leave a generous tip for a pleasant waiter

The bottom line is to be kind. You can benefit your heart, lower your blood pressure, and simply be a happier human being.

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