Several years ago, when I was first beginning to write on the topic of kindness, I got a speaking request.
A group wanted me to come and talk about the health benefits of kindness. It seems this should have been right smack dab in my realm of knowledge, but it wasn’t. I knew what kindness had done for me, but I didn’t know what it had done for others. So I hit the internet.
I couldn’t believe what I found… nearly nothing. No research on the effects of kindness in our lives. It was an unstudied topic.
In less than a decade, our world has awakened to the powerful force of kindness and it’s been studied in magnitude. We now know about the chemicals that are released into our bodies and even how to craft situations that will fire off these hormones.
But back when I was looking, all I found were two studies on volunteering — one done by the federal government and another done by a man named Allan Luks.
Mr. Luks had written a book about his research in the 1990s called The Healing Power of Doing Good. It sits on my shelf still today, because the findings remain true.
Before I headed off to that very scary first speech, I took a long shot and decided to email Mr. Luks and ask if perhaps there was an arena of research that I was missing. He wrote me back just a few hours later. No, this is still primarily unchartered territory. Researchers haven’t caught on to the power of kindness.
I was so touched that this very busy pioneer of social change would take the time to respond to my email. I bought his book, absorbed every word and started telling people about the amazing work that kindness can do in a body and the man who coined the phrase “Helper’s High.”
Allan Luks is still blazing trails in the political and social scene, but just like way back when, he agreed to pause for a moment to talk. He shares his original ideas on volunteerism and what he knows now about kindness.
You can listen on itunes, google play or NPR.