With all the research coming out now in the field of ‘Pro Social behavior’ (aka Kindness), it is very hard to deny the positive impact that kindness can have on us as individuals, on others and the world at large.
But can kindness actually influence our health on a cellular level???
Believe it or not, research is starting to prove that in can! Even on a biological genetic level!
There is an awesome study out that’s pretty recently shown this called ‘Kindness In The Blood – A Randomized Control Trial Of The Gene Regulatory Impact Of Pro Social Behavior’.
This is what happened in the study:
A group of 159 participants were told to do 1 of 4 things over a window of 4 weeks of the study period.
They were told to either:
1) Engage in acts of kindness that were directed to specific people – so maybe its buying coffee for a friend, donating some clothing to a particular family or person etc. but it was directed at a very specific person or community.
2) Engage in acts of kindness to the world – broader sort of things that would make a difference to the world where they didn’t actually necessarily see the changes but they would serve to help the environment/populations/a community or a country that’s in struggle etc.
3) Engage in acts of self-kindness. So being kind to yourself – self-care.
4) The forth cohort from that group was essentially the control group and they were told to pretty much do nothing.
What happened at the end of this was super fascinating because instead of just reviewing peoples self reports and journals, this study took the extra step of actually taking blood work and medical panels before and after.
So they were testing to see if there was any change in blood work or genetic expression that was related to acts of kindness either directed towards others, the self, or more generally to the world.
What they found was pretty mind blowing!
Of those 4 groups, one specific group showed something really powerful. That is the group who were doing pro-social acts, or acts of kindness directed towards specific other individuals. What the study showed was that there was a significant reduction in something called leukocyte CTRA gene expression over the 4week period. (Here is the link to the study for those that want to delve deeper into the nerdiness of this: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28395185 ).
Now what does that mean in human terms? Well the leukocyte CTRA gene expression is related to the body’s immune system and the body’s ability to actually sustain health and fight disease and lower inflammation. So what they are saying is that acts of kindness directed towards specific other people actually effected and assisted the gene expression that would allow the body to essentially fight disease and inflammation better.
So its kind of a really cool thing because this was one of the first studies that we’ve seen that actually showed that simply doing these tiny acts of kindness on a regular basis over a pretty short window of time, literally effected the gene regulation in the human being performing the act of kindness!
We are super excited to see science starting to prove that our behaviors – specifically being kind to others, can actually have an impact on the expression of genes that control health. This research has inspired us even more on our mission to encourage more and more people to be kinder to others in any way they can by using our Kindfulness Cards and passing it on!
Now we know that we are consciously contributing to not only a happier but also healthier world as well! (YAY!)