I’ve recently discovered some science about being a nice person.
It’s shocking, I think you might need to read it, in case you’re at risk too…
R is for Reality
Where would the world be without people being nice?
It doesn’t bear thinking about!
Dr David Hamilton (I believe I’ve mentioned him once or twice!) studies the science of kindness and found that when we’re kind to someone, we get a burst of oxytocin (the love drug!) which makes us feel good. This seems to be an evolutionary necessity for survival; if we help each other, we bond and are therefore safer as a crowd than as an individual.
The problem with being nice
So here’s the BIG but…
Oxytocin feels sooooo nice, we can get addicted to helping others.
Also, you may have heard of the stress reaction ‘Fight or Flight’ and now there’s newer research to show that while women and men both experience fight or flight, women are more likely to react by way of ‘Tend and Befriend’. The assumption is that women turn to the role of protecting the vulnerable and form connections with other caregivers to share the task of protecting. Some men will respond this way too.
Add it all together
If you add up:
Oxytocin feels good, plus
Caring is highly defensible as a valid, necessary and moral activity, plus
Being seen as a ‘good person’ is a desirable thing, plus
Feeling like a ‘good person’ makes us feel valued and connected to ‘the tribe’ and…
…all the above equals:
The potential to be exhausted!
On the other hand
The new information (new to me anyway) is from a rather clever chap called Gabor Maté. He has studied what happens when we do too much for other people and forget about what we need ourselves.
He has shown that when we ignore our own feelings, wishes and needs, the suppression keeps the emotions stuck in the body in a physical way and this physical strain takes the form of cancer, heart disease and many other ailments.
There’s so much interesting science to this that I won’t go into in a short blog, but I will be applying it to the CARE Model in the book I’m just completing.
For now, suffice it to say…
It’s all about BALANCE
Let’s take more time to be kind to others AND let’s balance that with recognising what we need ourselves.
Noticing what you need won’t just help you to stay fit, happy and healthy to be able to help others, but it will actually help you live a longer, healthier, happier life.
R is for Reality
So the R for Reality is about noticing what time, energy and resources you’ve REALLY got and not rushing to help someone else – because you have good intentions – when you know you don’t really have the energy to give away. Sometimes saying ‘no’ or not volunteering help could be the healthiest thing you do.
When I suggest you ‘Take Care’, I really mean it.
Even the science agrees!
Have a great week finding the balance,