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The Science of Kindness

The Science of Kindness

Wednesday was a day filled with kindness as people shared caring acts and messages around the world in honor of World Kindness Day. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are drawing inspiration from all of these kind acts and keeping the momentum up. We recently read an article on the Good News Network that informs us about a new institute whose primary directive is to research kindness.

A New “Kind” of School

Kindness has been shown to be beneficial to our physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as promote a fulfilling and long life. Since kindness is such a large and important topic, the University of California Los Angeles decided to open a school just for researching kindness. “There are countless other ways that different compassionate acts and lifestyle changes can affect one person, let alone society…[UCLA] has just announced that they will be launching the world’s first interdisciplinary research institute on kindness.” This is all made possible by The Bedari Foundation. This private family foundation aims “…to enable significant cultural shifts in the fields of health and wellness, community displacement and environmental conservation.” They offered the gift of $20 million to help establish this school at UCLA.

Kindness Studies

This institute will begin operating immediately. It will take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding kindness. These researchers will do this by using biological, evolutionary, psychological, cultural and sociological, as well as economic perspectives. Some of the focuses for researchers from many disciplines and external organizations who are gathering at the institute will be researching “…the actions, thoughts, feelings and social institutions associated with kindness.”

The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute will support world-class research on kindness. Some of the focus will be on creating opportunities to apply the kindness research to the real-world. Also, the institute will serve as a global platform for communicating findings, helping educate the world on the science of kindness. The institute hopes to use its research to empower citizens and inspire leaders to build more humane societies. This caring research is a wonderful way to promote caring around the world. Additionally, the research is helping set in motion acts of kindness that can help make the world a better place. UCLA chancellor Gene Block comments that “universities should always be places where we teach students to reach across lines of difference and treat one another with empathy and respect — even when we deeply disagree.” It is Chancellor Block’s hopes that the new institute will gather some of the best minds and hearts to bring forth top ideas on the vital issue of kindness. The sciences of kindness and how we apply that knowledge to government, economics, and general welfare of our communities gives us real hope for a solid social impact, now and for future generations. 

What Have Researchers Already Begun Studying?

In previous blogs we have mentioned how kindness and caring acts are contagious, in a good way. UCLA anthropologists are examining this phenomena of kindness that spreads from person to person and group to group. One study underway is the study of “…how people who regularly act unkind might be encouraged to engage in kind acts instead.” Also, UCLA psychologists are conducting studies on how kindness can improve our moods and reduce symptoms of depression. “Others are pursuing research on changes in neurobiology and behavior resulting from mindfulness, and how those changes can influence kindness and people’s mental, physical and social well-being.” 

But Wait, There’s MORE!

There is more for those of us who are looking for more excitement. The Kindness Institute will provide seed funding for projects that research and examine the mechanics of kindness, both social and physical. This could give us insight on how people and their communities can harness kindness to create more humane, caring societies. The Good News Network also reports that “It also will provide mindfulness awareness training to students, faculty and staff and in underserved Los Angeles communities, and host an annual conference at which presenters will examine new discoveries in kindness research, among other activities.” Matthew Harris, one of the The Bedari Foundation’s co-founders and UCLA alumni,  states, “Our vision is that we will all live in a world where humanity discovers and practices the kindness that exists in all of us … Much research is needed to understand why kindness can be so scarce in the modern world. As we seek at Bedari to bridge the divide between science and spirituality, through the establishment of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute we hope to educate and empower more and more people in the practice of kindness.”

We are so excited to hear about all of the kindness being brought into our caring communities. We thank every person who participates in caring acts to help make our world a better place for us all!

Craving more kindness? Read more blogs about acts of kindness in our communities, teaching caring kids, and caring for others. If you would like some more caring in your week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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