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Cedars-Sinai Blog

The Science of Kindness

Science says: Random acts of kindness are good for your health.

The warm feeling of wellbeing that washes over you when you've done something kind isn't just in your head.

It's in your brain chemicals, too.

Acts of kindness can release hormones that contribute to your mood and overall wellbeing. The practice is so effective it's being formally incorporated into some types of psychotherapy.

"We all seek a path to happiness," says Dr. Waguih William IsHak, a professor of psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai. "Practicing kindness toward others is one we know works."

Kindness is chemical

"We're building better selves and better communities at the same time."

Kindness as a treatment for pain, depression, and anxiety

What we know about the science behind acts of kindness is influencing how we treat certain health conditions, Dr. IsHak says.

  • Studies are investigating if oxytocin can be beneficial in treating some conditions. The hormone is a protein and cannot simply be taken as a pill. It's being studied in injection and nasal spray forms.
  • Mindfulness-based therapy is becoming increasingly popular for treating depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. The therapy is built on mindfulness meditation, documenting your gratitude, and acts of kindness. People being treated in a mindfulness-based therapy program incorporate acts of kindness into their daily routines.
  • Helping others is also believed to increase levels of an endorphin-like chemical in the body called substance P, which can relieve pain, Dr. IsHak says.

Put kindness on repeat