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Why Being Kind Can Make You Healthy

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Are you a kind person? Adam Navis and Katy Blake look at why people are kind. Could there be a benefit to doing kind things for others?

Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis.

Voice 2

And I’m Katy Blake. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Click here to follow along with this program on YouTube.

Voice 1

Imagine a long, dirt road. The country around it is dry. Small, brown plants grow from the dry ground. A man lies on the side of the road. He is very hurt. Thieves have taken his money. They have beaten him very badly. Without help, he will die. Soon, two people from his country walk by. But they do not stop to help. Both believe they are too busy. Then, a third man passes by. He is not from the man’s country. Instead, he is from a foreign country. In fact, these two countries are at war. But instead of passing by, this third man stops. The third man shows kindness. He helps the injured man onto his donkey. He takes him into his home. He cares for the injured man, and nurses him back to health. It does not matter to this third man if the injured man is from a different country. He sees someone who is in trouble, and he helps.

Voice 2

This is a story from the Christian Bible. It is called the story of the Good Samaritan. It tells Christian believers to be kind, even to their enemies. Most religions have stories like this. Most religions tell us to be kind to each other. These may seem like commands given with little reason. But did you know there are also scientific reasons why a person should be kind? Kind people are happier. And they may even live longer! Today’s Spotlight is on the science of being kind.

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Most people know that being kind feels good. Helping someone in need makes us feel positive. And giving a gift to a friend feels as good as receiving one. But for most of human history, no one could say why. Giacomo Rizzolatti is an Italian Scientist. He studies how the brain works. In the 1980s, he and his colleagues performed an experiment that showed a lot about kindness. Rizzolatti used electrical scans to examine the brains of monkeys. When a monkey did something, part of the brain would show activity.

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Then, Rizzolatti discovered something amazing. Sometimes, the monkeys would watch each other. When watching, their brains were also active. But they were active in the same way the other monkeys were. When one monkey reached out his hand, the other monkey’s brain looked as if it were doing the same. It was not reaching out. But the watching monkey’s brain experienced the event as if it were. Only special parts of the brain acted this way. Rizzolatti called them mirror neurons. Soon, he and his colleagues discovered the same thing in humans.

Voice 1

Mirror neurons are very important to the science of kindness. Mirror neurons are the part of our brain that lets us feel what other people feel. They allow us to empathize. V.S. Ramachandran is a neuroscientist. He studies mirror neurons. He spoke to Greater Good Magazine about why he thinks mirror neurons are important for empathy.

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“These mirror neurons are involved in empathy for pain. To really empathize with your pain, I need to experience it myself. That is what the mirror neurons are doing. They help me to feel your pain. I experience the same pain as if someone were to hurt me directly. That is the basis for all empathy.”

Voice 2

Empathy is the first step toward kindness. It lets us know when people are sad or hurt. We know mirror neurons help us feel other people’s pain. But mirror neurons also allow us to feel when other people are happy. When we see others smile, we often smile. In being kind to others, we feel their happiness.

Voice 1

The happiness we get from being kind also may be good for our health. When we are kind, our brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters. Some neurotransmitters make us frightened, or angry. But the neurotransmitters released in kindness have positive effects. They make us feel good about our relationships, and more confident. But they also help our bodies. Oxytocin is one neurotransmitter released during a kind act. Oxytocin prevents stress. But it also lowers blood pressure. Marcie Hall is a psychiatrist at University Hospitals in Ohio in the United States. She spoke to the Healthy@UH podcast about the benefits of these neurotransmitters.

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“Kindness actually protects your heart. It improves your body’s disease fighting system. It improves your energy. It reduces aches and pains. It can lead to a longer life. In the process, you also feel better about yourself.”

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Kindness and empathy are also very important to human society. They keep our relationships healthy. The good feelings we get from kindness make us want to help other people. And they encourage different groups of people to work together. Without empathy, our communities would be very different. They might not exist at all!

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One well-known theory is described as survival of the fittest. This idea is based on a theory by Charles Darwin. This theory says that the strongest and best people are the ones who will survive and continue. But Helen Riess disagrees with this idea. Riess is the director of a program that teaches people how to use and improve empathy. She wrote a paper called The Science of Empathy. In it, she explained why people have empathy.

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“Why is the human brain designed this way? If life were only the result of “survival of the fittest”, we would only fight people. We would not care about responding to suffering. Our ability to see other’s suffering allows us to feel and understand their pain. The personal distress we feel often influences us to show kindness. The survival of humans depends on helping others. Being kind reduces our own distress.”

Voice 2

Kindness is not just something nice you do for someone. Kindness is part of what makes us human. Without it, we would not be able to work together. We would not want to. Henry James was a famous English and American author. He wrote many books that explored the human experience. In 1902, James spoke to a young family member. James told the young man these wise words:

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“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

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Do you think kindness is important in your life? Tell us about one time you were kind. How did it feel? You can email us at contact@spotlightenglish.com. You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Dan Christmann. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. This program is called: Why Being Kind Can Make You Healthy.

Voice 1

Visit our website at www.spotlightenglish.com to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Is kindness a part of your life? What act of kindness will you do today?

Join the discussion

30 comments
  • Yes, it is important to be kind and help others, it is healthy for you, when you give them anything maybe just a smile, it is good for you .

  • Absolutely yes , it’s necessary in our life especially it is good in mental and physical health , the act of kindness smile to others and say hello them , help people in need , respect others and so on
    We should be kind and deal people as a kind regardless of nationality and religion

  • yes.
    i think the kindness a part of life because when do something nice to others like help poor People or elderly take any thing can hurts children in ground
    its important be kindness to all from humans to animals

  • definitely, Kindness takes place in my life as if am writing this text, in fact, feeling of others is what make us being kind, and people who are experience the empathy the ones with more kindness.

  • Hi everyone
    Humans are members of each other like organs of a body
    Because they are same in creation
    If an organ hurts any time, other parts of the body will have a sympathy
    then One who is not saddened by the suffering of others cannot be called a human

  • Yes it is a part of my life and i like to be a kind mother with my little kids.
    I will call my sister and i will let her know that I miss her so much and i want to take her with me to drink cup of coffee

  • Kindness is very important to our and other’s life, so be kind, it helps both you and the one you’ve helped.

  • Sure, I love this type of style in my live. It’s great, when you try add a happiness for others.
    I’ll do what I really want of others do with me when I fall a trouble or without it ,regardless How is it?!

  • Kindness is very important in my work because my work is direct with clients and the majority of clients are elderly and the required service must be completed in the best way and in the shortest period of time. It requires good treatment with the customer and spreading positive energy

  • Yes kindness is part of our life , I bring to my friends sweet , help my friends and said welcome to the new employees .

  • Ofcourse, kindness is the most important criteria of humankind. There are alot of situation I wear kind. But one of them touches my deepest haert. It was with a house keeper, she was nice, kind, and so friendly. One time I saw her crying with no stop, she has pain in her tooth. So, she couldn’t get the money or afford it.. she told me how she is in pain After that I took her to hospital and make sure she got a well treatment.
    She always thanks me, in every day and thats so kind of her.

  • The first thing I want to confirm that Kindness is very important part of my life because the feeling of doing kind actions make my life is valuable. I am a teacher, I will support my student to learn how to use some computer softwares.

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