UCLA is poised to advance science with the Wednesday launch of the world’s first interdisciplinary research institute on kindness, which will explore, for instance, how and why being nice to others reduces depression and the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It is a remarkable endeavor to improve the lives of people with practical research. Research by UCLA scientists already has shown that mindfulness and kindness actually alter the behavior of genes, turning down those that promote inflammation, which can lead to heart disease or certain cancers, and turning up the activity of genes that protect against infections. In other words, kindness is already good for your health.
But the ultimate goal of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute is to spread kindness and promote a more humane world. It will develop training tools to help practice kindness and spread them through online programs, public lectures, media outreach and a free app called UCLA Mindful, which is already available. But before they could begin researchers had to agree on an academic definition for kindness. They settled on an act that enhances the welfare of others as an end in itself. When it comes to kindness, the intention, rather than the outcome, is key. In other words, it’s the thought that counts, as the adage goes. So, scientifically, kindness is complimenting someone to make them feel good, not to get what you want. It’s sending a donation to a charity even if the check gets lost in the mail. It’s contemplating a legitimate reason why a driver who cuts you off might be in a hurry.
The idea of researchers not only studying kindness, but promoting it in all of its forms is a wondrous opportunity to improve not only the lives of those who take the time to learn the information they share; but also the lives of each person impacted by the practice of that kindness. It’s certainly worth being your Good News Story of the Day and if you would like to know more you can find it here, click through to learn more about their three themes: the roots of kindness, how to promote it, and how to use it as a therapeutic intervention to improve mental and physical health.
Also a big shout out to the Bedari Foundation, established by philanthropists Jennifer and Matthew C. Harris, whose $20 million gift will provide seed funding for the institute’s research projects.
Story and Image from L.A. Times.