If you ever feel like you don’t make a difference

Kindness is highly contagious. It’s more contagious, in fact, than the cold. The contagiousness of kindness is powered by what’s known as ‘elevation’, a description coined by social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt. It’s a sense of warmth, satisfaction, expansion, even gratitude. It’s the feeling we feel when we do something kind, but also when we receive […]

Nature’s Catch 22

I’ve written a lot about the “side effects” of kindness. There’s five of them: Kindness makes you happier, it’s good for the heart, it slows ageing, it improves relationships, and it’s contagious. There’s talk sometimes where people say there is no truly altruistic act, that if you benefit from kindness then you’re being somewhat selfish […]

Kindness on the curriculum

I spent some time in New York City last weekend. I’m writing a series of pieces for Psychologies Magazine called ‘The Kindness Conversation’ where I basically have, well, conversations about kindness. In New York, I had my kindness conversation with Cynthia Germanotta, mother of Lady Gaga. Cynthia is president and co-founder (with her daughter) of […]

The vagus nerve and cancer

I recently read a scientific paper, published this year in the Journal of Oncology (see paper), with great interest. It linked the activity of the vagus nerve with cancer prognosis. Why is this important? I’ve written quite a bit about the vagus nerve in some of my blogs and books (The Five Side Effects of […]

Can kindness boost the immune system?

In other blogs, I’ve written how kindness is the opposite of stress in terms of its physiological effects. At first, one might imagine that peace is the opposite of stress, but peace is more the absence of stress than its opposite. In a number of different ways, kindness produces opposite effects from those that stress […]

The right thing to do

I was in Chicago for a couple of days recently. Among many things, one thing that stood out for me was the number of homeless people who were not asking for money. One was just a young girl, who couldn’t have been more than 18. Some of their cardboard signs said things like, “Please. I’m not looking for […]

The opposite of stress

Everybody knows what stress feels like. We also know what it feels like when we’re kind, when someone is kind to us, or even when we witness kindness. The feelings are opposite. Most of the effects inside the body are the opposite too. Feelings of stress generate ‘stress hormones’ in the brain and body, like […]