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Bringing Kindness Back

BY JESSICA CAVALLARONovember 24, 2015

Editor’s Note: We are excited to welcome our 15-16 ISN Media Team to the blog! Over the 2015-2016 academic year, these five emerging creatives will be sharing stories of justice from their college campuses. Jessica Cavallaro has our first post in the series. 

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written by: Jessica Cavallaro, ’18| St. Joseph’s University

The city of Philadelphia is not usually associated with the word “kindness” (remember HitchBOT’s destruction a few months prior). However, on October 27th, Philly’s 333rd birthday, A Day of Kindness was proclaimed in the city.

This day also celebrated Pope Francis’ visit to the City of Brotherly Love where he spoke about the importance of kindness, William Penn’s wish for kindness, and the Dalai Lama being awarded the Liberty Medal.

At 5:30 PM on that Tuesday, thousands of flags of kindness made by people of all ages, races, and backgrounds throughout the city were dedicated to the kindness mission. These flags were part of the celebration, Kindness in the Wind, where all of the flags were displayed in the City Hall Courtyard.

To continue the goals and mission of this day of kindness, the next step is to extend it into people’s everyday lives. If we take time out of our days to practice kindness, the world will become a much better place.

Research shows that doing good deeds for other people can cause socially anxious people, or just people in general, to feel more comfortable in difficult situations and ultimately make them feel better. According to David R. Hamilton, Ph.D, author of Why Kindness is Good for You, there are five main positive side effects of kindness.

1. Kindness makes us happier.

Doing something kind for someone else makes us feel good. It gives us a sense of hope and it gives us the feeling that we are doing the right thing. Known as “helper’s high,” kindness can cause elevated levels of the brain’s natural versions of morphine and heroin, giving us a natural high.

2. Kindness gives us healthier hearts.

A feeling of emotional warmth often complements doing good deeds. This feeling can produce a hormone called oxytocin, which expands blood vessels. This decreases blood pressure, causing oxytocin to be “cardio-protective” by helping out our hearts. So instead of going for that glass of red wine at dinner for heart health, try performing an act of kindness instead.

3. Kindness slows aging.

The same hormone, oxytocin, has the ability to slow down signs of physical aging as well, because it works to decrease levels of inflammation in our cardiovascular system. Thus, the key to staying young forever – or as long as possible – can be linked to acts of kindness.

4. Kindness makes for better relationships.

Let’s face it—who doesn’t love it when someone is randomly kind to them? An act of kindness can truly brighten someone’s day. It can also be the start of long lasting friendships. On a more scientific level, kindness reduces the emotional distance between people, which causes them to bond and make connections. This reasoning can even go as far as genetics; we are bound by kindness. It’s been shown by our evolutionary ancestors, who had to help and collaborate with one another in order to survive.

5. Kindness is contagious.

The word “contagious” is best suited to kindness than any other word. Kindness can be inspiring as a result of its “pay it forward” mindset. Studies have shown that kindness can create a snowball effect, each participant gathering increasing amounts of people to inspire every time they perform a kind act.

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Going to a Jesuit university has really allowed me to look at social justice issues not only through my own lens, but through others as well. My own perspective is very different from most people due to the privilege I was born into. However, kindness is universal. Regardless of race, religion, ethnic background, social class, education level, we are all able to be kind.

Something as easy as saying please or thank you can really make someone’s day. The next time you are in line at a coffee shop or your local supermarket, think about paying for someone’s cup of coffee or groceries. If you are parking and you see that someone’s meter is running low, add some quarters. There are a million and one things that anyone can do to practice kindness.

Let’s start associating “kindness” with the City of Brotherly Love and, more importantly, the world.

 

jess

Jessica Cavallaro is a sophomore at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia studying Communications and Entertainment Marketing. She has been involved with the service-learning program since she arrived on campus and is also part of the social justice and service Residential Learning Community at St Joe’s. She has volunteered at a domestic violence shelter, a homeless shelter, and different schools around Philly and in her hometown! She has also gone on many service trips including one to Washington state!

She writes for her own personal blog where she posts different ways to perform random acts of kindness and shares her own stories and also for 1851 Entertainment’s blog (St Joe’s music club)! She has always been a big believer that kindness makes the world go ‘round (and also music).

If she’s not at a concert or blogging she’s either going to service, planning events for St Joe’s programming board, the Student Union Board, working on digital media for the school newspaper, The Hawk, or volunteering with the Philadelphia Film Society!

Jessica Cavallaro

Jessica Cavallaro is a sophomore at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia studying Communications and Entertainment Marketing. She has been involved with the service-learning program since she arrived on campus and is also part of the social justice and service Residential Learning Community at St Joe’s. She has volunteered at a domestic violence shelter, a homeless shelter, and different schools around Philly and in her hometown! She has also gone on many service trips including one to Washington state!

She writes for her own personal blog where she posts different ways to perform random acts of kindness and shares her own stories and also for 1851 Entertainment’s blog (St Joe’s music club)! She has always been a big believer that kindness makes the world go ‘round (and also music).

If she’s not at a concert or blogging she’s either going to service, planning events for St Joe’s programming board, the Student Union Board, working on digital media for the school newspaper, The Hawk, or volunteering with the Philadelphia Film Society!

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