These past few weeks, my son's teacher has been encouraging her class to plan and perform anonymous acts of kindness for each other. 😍
Why is this so important in a world where going out of our way to be kind to someone without any form of repayment, can be interpreted as a luxury or a passive trait?
We all know that doing nice things for other people feels good and that good deeds often result in people being kinder to us in turn, but we probably don't recognise acts of kindness as simple and instantly-beneficial parts of our own self-care routine.
Acts of kindness are as positive for the giver as for the receiver, stimulating the same neural circuits involved in registering chemical 'highs'. The release of oxytocin in to our bloodstreams enhances our feeling of belonging and social bonding. The release of dopamine, serotonin and endogenous opioids reduce our perception of pain and in turn lowers our stress response and boosts our sense of well-being.
I'm not sure that a class of 9 year olds looks at it in quite this way yet, but the exercise has made my son question "Which do you like more? getting something for yourself or seeing someone really happy because of what you did?"