Today we focus on all the ways kindness rocks. It helps us emotionally, mentally, and physically. It increases our spiritual energy level. It may surprise you how essential kindness really is.
We are never in a low enough state that we cannot treat other people with basic kindness. I completely understand being in a low vibrational energy state where it is critical I work on me and get me up out of that, where I cannot actively reach out and serve other people. It is the cliché analogy of putting on your own oxygen mask in an airplane emergency so that you don’t pass out before you can help other people put on theirs. I have been there emotionally. But that is not an excuse to treat other people with disrespect or to move outside of kindness.
This story I heard recently about scientists discovering the effects of kindness and affection on rabbits was told by Gary E. Stevenson (April 2021 General Conference).
In the 1970s, researchers set up an experiment to examine the effects of diet on heart health. Over several months, they fed a control group of rabbits a high-fat diet and monitored their blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.
As expected, many of the rabbits showed a buildup of fatty deposits on the inside of their arteries. Yet this was not all! Researchers had discovered something that made little sense. Although all of the rabbits had a buildup, one group surprisingly had as much as 60 percent less than the others. It appeared as though they were looking at two different groups of rabbits.
To scientists, results like this can cause lost sleep. How could this be? The rabbits were all the same breed from New Zealand, from a virtually identical gene pool. They each received equal amounts of the same food.
What could this mean?
Did the results invalidate the study? Were there flaws in the experiment design?
The scientists struggled to understand this unexpected outcome!
Eventually, they turned their attention to the research staff. Was it possible that researchers had done something to influence the results? As they pursued this, they discovered that every rabbit with fewer fatty deposits had been under the care of one researcher. She fed the rabbits the same food as everyone else. But, as one scientist reported, “she was an unusually kind and caring individual.” When she fed the rabbits, “she talked to them, cuddled and petted them. … ‘She couldn’t help it. It’s just how she was.’”1
She did more than simply give the rabbits food. She gave them love!
At first glance, it seemed unlikely that this could be the reason for the dramatic difference, but the research team could see no other possibility.
So they repeated the experiment—this time tightly controlling for every other variable. When they analyzed the results, the same thing happened! The rabbits under the care of the loving researcher had significantly higher health outcomes.
The scientists published the results of this study in the prestigious journal Science.2
Years later the findings of this experiment still seem influential in the medical community. In recent years, Dr. Kelli Harding published a book titled The Rabbit Effect that takes its name from the experiment. Her conclusion: “Take a rabbit with an unhealthy lifestyle. Talk to it. Hold it. Give it affection. … The relationship made a difference. … Ultimately,” she concludes, “what affects our health in the most meaningful ways has as much to do with how we treat one another, how we live, and how we think about what it means to be human.”
Your Kindness Challenges:
- This is a mental exercise, but it will help you focus on other people. Pretend there are no financial or time limitations. Make a list of 50 things you would like to give to other people.
- read The Value of a Kind Word
- Leave every person you come into contact with today feeling better about themselves. If you give compliments, make sure they are sincere. Listen to what people have to say. Smile, give up your place in line, leave a little extra tip. Spread some sunshine all day for one day.
- I like the idea of cheering each other on with kind words. But I feel the need to take it an extra step for myself, and put out a compliment when I feel any negative emotion (envy, anger, frustration). By focusing on finding a positive about the person, perhaps it will help switch my point of view. It’s worth a try, right?
- Listen to this podcast from DarrenDaily On-Demand: Little Known Secret to Living Healthier and Longer
- read 6 Science-Backed Ways Kindness is Good for Your Health
Journal: Pick one of the above challenges each day for the next six days and write about what you learn or what you experience.