Helping someone who is hurt. Holding the door for someone who has their hands full. Smiling at someone on the street.
Most of us would say that these simple acts of kindness come naturally to us, part of our daily routine. Despite what the media seems to want us to believe, the majority of people in this world are kind and have good intentions.
In actual fact, contrary to popular belief in the selfishness of humanity, there is scientific evidence to suggest that there is such a thing as an instinct towards kindness. More and more, scientists are agreeing that, as humans we have an instinct for compassion which reveals itself at a very early age.
Studies show that toddlers as young as 14 to 18 months know how to help, even without rewards, and concern for others has been observed in the first year of a child’s life.
The crux of it is: we are wired to respond to the needs of others!
Without going into too much science talk (frankly because I don’t understand it!) neuroscience supports the fact that humans experience physiological reactions to seeing others suffering. In essence, if someone experiences physical pain, a part of his brain lights up; on seeing this person suffer pain, the same part of another person’s brain will light up – mirroring their experience neurologically. To the layman amongst us, this scientific discovery provides the evidence for empathy – a key emotion causing people to act kindly towards each other.
In his book ‘Born to be Good’, social psychologist Dacher Keltner discusses the common misconception that Darwin’s theory of evolution and ‘survival of the fittest’ theory meant that the most ruthless, bloodthirsty and selfish would thrive and survive. He argues this wasn’t Darwin’s theory at all, but rather that ‘sympathy is the strongest instinct that humans have… communities that have the most sympathetic members will flourish best and will produce the most offspring’. Darwin himself argued that kindness was essential for the survival of our species.
So, we have learnt that kindness and compassion is an instinct essential for our survival. As if this wasn’t enough of a reason to throw that stuff around like confetti, neuroscience suggests that completing daily acts of kindness can actually be good for our health!
According to scientists in America, engaging in acts of kindness can help reduce anxiety and blood pressure, increasing general happiness over time.
At For Good Causes, we don’t underestimate the importance of kindness. We wholeheartedly believe that it is innate in all of us and, for that reason, it is the most important of all the values underpinning our business and the work that we do.
Charities fundamentally rely on the kindness of people to run and exist. In order to continue their fantastic work, in whichever field they are focussing, they need us to act on our instinct.
Why not start today?