Ages ago, I wrote this post about the night I prayed my water wouldn’t break. I had a quiet, solitary evening ahead of me and just when I was relaxing in my very pregnant state, I felt it: anger. Clutching me with its sharp claws, I could feel the pain and rage of a past experience as if it were happening at that very moment. I couldn’t allow that feeling to grow because the last time it did, and I was pregnant, I went into labour 5 weeks early. That could have been a coincidence but I wasn’t taking any chances.
Instinctively, my mind grasped for something else, anything else, that would pull me out of this teeny, tiny world of she-did-this-to-me and he-said-that-to-me and into something greater.
My mind turned to service. It reached for kindness. I bet it was my Soul beckoning.
I thought about a particular man who was doing good deeds and that led to more thoughts of hope and inspiration. I always knew being of service and doing kind things, just because, had a therapeutic effect on me (hence, I reached for thoughts of that nature as I was headed into a downward spiral) and now I understand why.
Performing an act of kindness increases the serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is a hormone that, when released, brings feelings of happiness and peace. It also strengthens immune function. And it’s not just performing kind acts that does this: receiving and witnessing kindness have the same effect! (Serotonin is also the hormone that is increased with the use of anti-depressants).
I bet you knew this, too, even if you didn’t have a way to chemically explain it. Try it. Next time you are in a funk – be it sadness, anger, the grumps, self-pity – go out of your way to do something nice for someone else. See what happens!