For those of you that have followed me for some time, you know that I advocate sharing at every turn. It is a transformative practice all on its own and, speaking from my personal experience, this type of radical kindness can create instant positive change for you and for others.
This idea of radical kindness is echoed by the kabbalists. They taught kindness in many ways, but one teaching, in particular, speaks directly to the way we live our lives daily. It is called The Secret of Days. The basis of this teaching can be found in one sentence from the Zohar:
“The righteous, through actions of sharing, give life to their days. But those who live with the desire to receive for the self alone, their day gives them life.” Rabbi Acha continued this teaching by saying, “There are certain people who are old (who have lived many days) but don’t have their days. And some might have their days, but not their years.”
What does this mean exactly?
Days are so much more than how we think of them. Everything has an energy, an existence, and a reality, including each day. By giving life to our days, we create positive energy that can manifest as blessings, opportunity, and, ultimately, a long, vibrant life. Think of this way, your day today is here to give you life energy. Without this day, you wouldn’t exist. From here, one of two things can happen:
You can deplete the energy of the day through selfish actions, and at the end of the day, the day is dead.
Or, you can share in that day and by doing so, put energy into the day.
In each moment, we are either depleting the day or giving it energy solely based on whether or not our consciousness is focused on sharing and giving or on desiring to receive for the self alone. When we deplete our days, we deplete ourselves—and science backs this up. A non-profit organization called Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) is dedicated to making kindness the norm and educating companies and school on the benefits of kindness. Their website features a fascinating list of all the ways kindness, giving, and sharing, directly affects our health and wellbeing—and they all parallel this kabbalistic teaching.
Kindness Extends Our Lifespan
“People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status, and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.” – Christine Carter, Author, Raising Happiness; In Pursuit of Joyful Kids and Happier Parents
Kindness Increases Joy… For the Giver!
According to research from Emory University, when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed—not the giver. This phenomenon is called the “helper’s high.”
Kindness Decreases Anxiety
A group of highly anxious individuals performed at least six acts of kindness a week. After one month, there was a significant increase in positive moods, relationship satisfaction, and a decrease in social avoidance in socially anxious individuals. – University of British Columbia Study
Kindness Lowers Blood Pressure
Committing acts of kindness, lowers blood pressure. According to Dr. David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness create emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.
Kindness Gives Us Energy
“About half of participants in one study reported that they feel stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth” – Christine Carter, UC Berkeley, Greater Good Science Center
When we practice kindness, no matter how big or small, we give energy to our days. We give energy to our hearts, minds, and bodies. Our acts of sharing enrich us; they nourish others and the world and give life to each day that we live. We merit a long life based on our ability to share and to give. When you think of kindness this way, and when you treat each day as a living thing, how does it shift your consciousness?
Get out there and share. Give life to your days and to yourselves.