Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the digestive tract, the central nervous system and the pineal gland within the brain. It relays signals from one area of brain cells to another. It is strongly believed that serotonin influences brain cells related to mood, desires, appetite, memory, sleep and social behaviors. Theory states that high levels of serotonin increase feelings of well being and happiness. Conversely, low levels are associated with depression as well as aggressive behaviors.
A simple act of kindness may seem inconsequential yet there are benefits to be derived, whether you are the presenter or on the receiving end. When a person performs an act of kindness, levels of serotonin in the brain increase. This infusion causes an increase in feeling of joy, happiness and satisfaction. Just by thinking of another person and acting on it we can naturally increase this feel-good hormone in our bodies.
The CDC’s Center for Health Stats shows a 400% increase in the usage of antidepressant drugs from 1988 to 2011. Many of these antidepressants, known as SSRI’s and SNRI’s, work to increase the serotonin levels in the brain and in turn increase feelings of joy as well as ease the effects of depression. With such power embedded in a simple act of kindness, is it naive to think we can positively influence society naturally rather than medically?
I often think of a great movie called “Pay It Forward“. The basic premise being that if one favor is passed onto three others, the positive effects of the good deed multiply exponentially. Creating a movement that one simple idea can change the world. The next time you are looking for a movie to watch, check this one out. You may just be inspired to increase your serotonin levels.
How do you feel about the health benefits of an act of kindness?
Perform one act of kindness today and let me know how it makes you feel.