A Healthy Decision. Really?
Differences in the world bring the rainbows of diversity and the storms of conflict. We all want to believe that we appreciate and value the variety of people in our world. Few people are bold enough to say “I want everyone to be really kind to me and I may or may not return the favor” Yet, let’s be honest: do we practice this notion quietly hoping that no one sees our true selves?
Are we kind or unkind regardless of where we are or who we are with? Do we truly do unto others as we would hope they would do unto us? Do we maintain those same commandments at work and at play? And just to make sure, what exactly should I be doing to make sure I am one of the good guys?
Jeanie Lerche Davis of WebMD reminds us of the physical benefits of being kind in all aspects of our lives as she explores, “The Science of Good Deeds” in her article of the same name. She spoke with Dr. Stephen Post, a professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine as he describes the studies being done on the “comprehensive investigation of altruism, aka...generosity, and kindness” that include “many scientific disciplines -- evolution, genetics, human development, neurology, social science, and positive psychology.”
His findings? “Altruistic emotions -- the "helper's high" -- seem to gain dominance over the stress response,” Post explains. Quite simply, studies point to lowered stress response and improved immunity (higher levels of protective antibodies) when one is feeling empathy, kindness, and love.
The stress that we feel in the office can be cancelled out when we apply altruism to our world. Davis provides several scientifically backed studies in the article. She writes, “in one study, older adults who volunteered to give massage to infants experienced almost instant lowered stress hormones. In another study, students were simply asked to watch a film of Mother Teresa's work with the poor in Calcutta. They had significant increases in protective antibodies associated with improved immunity -- and antibody levels remained high for hours afterward.”
In a Gallup poll released in 2014, the average time worked by full-time employees had ticked up to 46.7 hours a week, or nearly a full extra eight-hour day. If you remove sleep from the hours in a week, we are spending close to 75% of our waking week at work. So if we want to reap the benefits of the science behind kindness, we must be the proverbial “good guy” at work as well. Shawn Collins, Editor in Chief of Feedfront Magazine, agrees and believes that kind behavior within the workplace is just as important as in our private lives.
So what can we do to improve our health and be kind at work simultaneously?
In his article “Six Rules for Evolved Adults,” Collins writes, “business and personal relationships can turn sour over the smallest actions” and suggests simple rules that can go a long way as a businessman, a neighbor, or an employee.
Collins first lists “Never Arrive at a Social Function Empty Handed” and “Be On Time.” We all have been humbled and delighted with host and hostess gifts throughout our lives. Don’t assume that this idea is about money; it is not, but it is about being thoughtful. Just a few weeks ago, I purchased several small yet stylish frames at the dollar store. Last night I went over to a friend’s house for a drink. I found a quotation from one of her favorite authors and printed it using a color that I knew she loved and typed it in a fun font. I stuck the quotation in the frame, tied a piece of burlap ribbon to it, and relished the big smile she gave me when she saw it. Cost? 1.00. Thoughtful, kind, and well received.
While arriving at a party a few minutes late is not nearly as offensive as arriving to work a few minutes late, the same general rules apply. Collins call this “not charming or cute, but jackass behavior.” Ouch. I heard that, Mr. Collins. His solution? “Leave earlier.” Being kind includes consideration of someone else’s time.
Collins next lists “Respond to People” and “Be Reciprocal” as kindness skills absolutely necessary in the workforce. Something as simple as responding to emails or texts should not be ignored. Feel like there’s not enough time in the day to return the favor or the call? Collins matter of factly writes, “you are not too busy to do it. You’re too selfish.”
Finally, Collins stresses the importance of honoring your word and meeting deadlines. By turning “your lack of planning into a someone else’s emergency,” you are only hurting yourself, your career, and now based on science, your health. Collins insists, “You made a commitment...do it...that’s the end of the story.”
Simply put: these principles are win, win, and win a win for the person who experiences this kindness, a win for you in solidifying positive relationships at work, and a win in your happily ever after healthy days ahead.