5 and a half ways kindness can improve your life
While the word 'mindfulness' has become a catch-phrase increasingly used in well-being and even medical contexts, how many people recognise that mindfulness is not truly mindful without compassion. Buddhist monk, Ajahn Brahm, coined the term 'kindfulness' to express this thought. Without kindness, mindfulness is simply a non-judgemental awareness. It lacks a certain beauty and stillness. Likewise, without mindfulness, the sentiment of kindness can seem somewhat empty and is often misdirected (it can result in unnecessary or even unwanted gifts). It turns out that just as mindfulness has been shown to improve the quality of life, for yourself and others around you, so too has kindness. Here are 5 and a half ways kindness can improve your life: Kindness is a feel-good drug: it has been linked to the body's production of oxytocin (a hormone also released during love making and breast feeding) which produces a pleasurable sense of warmth and contentment. Kindness is contagious: a study by the University of California and Harvard found that when one person demonstrates kindness, it is likely to inspire others to act with kindness. By being kind to one person, you potentially inspire others to follow in your footsteps, allowing your simple act to spread. Imagine what a pleasure it would be to live in a world of infectious kindness' Kindness promotes good health: a Professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University in New York found acts of kindness help improve the health of people living with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis. A similar Berkeley study found that elderly people who did volunteer work lived longer than those who did not. Kindness results in a positive outlook: when you are able to show kindness towards others, you begin to see and appreciate similar gestures shown towards you. Instead of dwelling on the moments where others may have hurt or offended us, we start to think of the things we're grateful for. Kindness promotes social cohesion: you get back what you give, or so the saying goes. Not only are others more likely to treat you with kindness when they witness you behaving and acting with kindness, but kindness improves the world for others and yourself. And a half' practicing kindness is shown to correlate with an increased sense of meaning in life. At Earthchild Project, we are fortunate to witness countless moments of 'kindfulness' through our volunteers and supporters who raise funds for our Earthchildren. Their acts of mindful kindness help inspire a generation of young leaders who are socially and environmentally conscious, and who want to give back to their community. This Festive season, consider giving a gift of kindness by nurturing an Eco-Warrior through Earthchild Project. Just R350 provides one child with weekly environmental education, outings and hikes for a year.   For more information: www.Earthchildproject.org/donate

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