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Have you ever heard the phrase, “Kindness is contagious?” Most sayings like this come to
become widely known because they’re based in truth. Research has found scientific evidence for
the fact that kindness can spread in various ways. You’ve surely experienced or witnessed
instances in which someone has paid it forward or a movement has spread based on one person’s
good deed. In today’s post, I’d like to explore this concept further and show you just how far-
reaching the concept of helping others can be.
Both Giver and Receiver Benefit
Everyone benefits from random acts of kindness. The giver feels good and gets that “helper’s
high” from going out of their way to brighten someone else’s day. The recipient enjoys the surprise
of an unsolicited positive outreach. We all appreciate when someone is nice to us. These good
feelings tend to create a cycle because those involved want to continue feeling good. The giver
gets a rush from helping someone and will often be motivated to keep giving in various ways. The
recipient wants to share the rewards they’ve just gained. They may feel an obligation to “pay it
forward”, but they know they will experience a reward, as well.
Observers Experience Benefits, Too
Even if you’re not directly part of an act of kindness, you can benefit. A phenomenon known as
“moral elevation” exists that ensures good deeds will spread. It works by creating positive feelings
when certain events are triggered within the peripheral and central nervous systems. These
neurophysical connections are made when someone witnesses or hears about an act of kindness
or feel-good story. The high or euphoric feeling you then get motivates you to want to do
something good, as well, perpetuating the pay-it-forward cycle.
Evidence in Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory is the study of the ways in which groups interact. Its core principles are
based on the fact that people will behave in similar ways to which they see those in their peer
group or how their families behave. It’s sort of the “monkey see, monkey do” or “birds of a feather”
philosophy. Therefore, when children grow up in a family in which kindness and compassion are
the norm, they are more likely to display those traits also. Just as when teachers demonstrate and
emphasize to their students a core philosophy of doing good, this standard will be the precedent
among the class. Kindness is essentially contagious when groups continually perform such
behavior.
You can make a difference in your small corner of the world by simply performing random acts of
kindness. Science and centuries of anecdotal evidence backs this up. Be the change you wish to
see and encourage the people around you to do good deeds. You’ll begin to see an impact.