If I asked 100 people to describe their ideal of a beautiful person, I guarantee I’ll get different answers. These answers would probably be a combination of physical and personality traits.
In recent years, we’ve learned that physical beauty standards differ worldwide, which is a testament that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
But, I’m not here to explore physical features. Instead, I want to explore a universal quality that transcends so-called beauty standards: kindness.
How Kindness Affects Your Mind and Body
Kindness is one of the most universal and objective traits that define beauty. When we experience kindness, we feel humbled, grateful, touched, etc., but our physiology also goes through positive changes. Take a look at these studies.
When we’re kind to others, our brain’s pleasure and reward centers experience a phenomenon called “helper’s high.”
This “high” occurs when we witness acts of kindness as well, and it’s because of something called mirror neurons that live in our brain.
Mirror neurons are precisely what their name implies and are activated when acts of kindness are given or observed. Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behavior, as though the observer is experiencing it first-hand.
Recent studies have also shown that practicing kindness can also decrease stress, lower blood pressure, and reduce depression.
Kindness in Action
A few years ago, a New York City doctor journaled about a hiking experience where she learned about the lasting beauty of kindness.
During a casual hike, she accidentally embarked on an advanced trail. She was hesitant to hike farther. But, after the help of several professional trail runners and a friendly local guide, she eventually reached the top. She felt accomplished but had it not been for the strangers’ kindness, she would have cut her hike short.
As she headed back down the mountain, she came to the aid of two lost hikers on their trek to the top.
Through this experience, the author encountered what psychologists dub as “upward spiral,” a feeling of openness and flexibility to experience even more positive emotions. Basically, the more positive she felt, the more she thrived.
Practice Makes Beautiful
To be beautiful is to practice kindness. Every act of kindness is a step towards bettering our society and ourselves.
On the other hand, if you’ve associated beauty with societal beauty standards, I want you to look at it from a new perspective. Breath fresh meaning into the word and understand that everlasting beauty comes from the heart. Kindness comes from the heart.
Learn to practice kindness whenever you can. The more you practice, the more positive others and you will feel. If you need a little guidance on where to start, try any of these initiatives from kindness.org. Happy practicing!