Being a good person pays off: it has health benefits

Acts of kindness may not be as disinterested and random as we might think. A new study concludes that doing good, something for which we are programmed, makes us feel better and it has benefits for our health.

Goodness "is so rooted in our bones like our anger or our lust or our grief or our desire for revenge, "explains University of California San Diego psychologist Michael McCullough,

Scientific research is booming in terms of human goodness and what scientists have found so far speaks volumes about us. "Goodness is much older than religion. It seems to be universalsays Oliver Curry, an anthropologist at Oxford University, director of research. "The basic reason people are friendly is that we are social animals."

The quality that we appreciate the most

And it is the quality that we appreciate the most. We value kindness above any other value. "A lot of people say to me, well, people are not friendly. And I think that is actually a fallacy of perception, because when you measure people's behavior, you actually discover that they are friendly," says Anat Bardi, a psychologist. from the University of London. "People do acts of kindness regularly"

Being good separates us from other animal species, which do not help strangers. And that is due to the human ability to reason

The problem is that we remember more the unkind gesture or the rude person, not the most common and expected kindness, he adds. Deep down, Bardi stresses, we are motivated to be kind.

"We are kind because under the right circumstances we all benefit from kindness"Curry adds. When it comes to the survival of a species" goodness pays off, kindness pays off. "

most of animals are not friendly or helpful strangers, only close relatives, so that's one of the traits that set us apart from other species, he said. And that, he points out, is due to the human ability to reason.

Humans realize that there is not much difference between our close relatives and strangers and that someday strangers can help us if we are nice to them, McCullough adds. An example of this are blood donations or social programs

More rational than we think

Often our greatest acts of kindness come from thinking things through carefully. When asked to donate kidneys to strangers, they don't often talk about feelings as much, but instead give logical reasons why they do, McCullough says.

Several investigations have found more antiviral genes in people who did acts of kindness

But in general, our bodies not only they are programmed to be kind, but they reward us for being kind. "Doing good makes you happier and being happier makes you do kind acts," explains labor economist Richard Layard, who studies happiness at the London School of Economics.

Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Riverside, Sonja Lyubomirsky, has tested that concept in numerous experiments over the course of 20 years and has repeatedly found that people feel better when they are kind with others, even more than when they are kind to themselves. "Acts of kindness are very powerful."

In one experiment, he asked the subjects to do three additional acts of kindness for other people a week and asked a different group to do three acts of kindness toward themselves. They could be small, like opening a door for someone, or large. But people who were kind to each other they became happier and they felt more connected to the world.

It evades us from our problems

The same was true with money, using it to help others instead of helping yourself. Lyubomirsky said he thinks it is because people spend too much time thinking and caring for themselves And when they think of others while doing acts of kindness, it makes them think less about their own problems. Curry found at least 27 studies that showed the same thing: Being nice makes people feel better emotionally.

But there are also physical benefits. A study of people with multiple sclerosis concluded that patients felt better physically when they helped others. He also found that in people who do more acts of kindness, the genes that trigger inflammation are rejected more than in people who don't. Similarly, other investigations have found more antiviral genes in people who did acts of kindness.