Here at MFF, we’re used to building up our muscles… whether that be with kettlebell swings, squats, or bench presses.
As we each continue on our health and hotness journeys into February, I’d love to introduce another “muscle” for us to flex: our kindness and compassion muscle.
What is Strength?
While doing some research on this very topic, I came across this great quote from Henry Rollins: “Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.”
This idea of building up more kindness, and ultimately sharing it with others, feels super important to me with everything going on in the world at the moment. I truly believe that connecting with other humans, even ones with opposing opinions or views, begins with each and every one of us leading with kindness.
Studies have proven that kindness can increase:
- Heart health – When one witnesses an act of kindness, the body produces oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin also increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we’re anxious or shy in a social situation.
- Serotonin levels – Serotonin is that feel-good chemical that is popularly thought to be a contributor to well-being and happiness.
- Pleasure – A phenomenon known as “helper’s high” occurs when you are kind to another person which causes your brain’s pleasure and reward centers to light up, as if YOU were the recipient of the good deed.
- Energy – Studies have proven that people who have helped others have higher energy levels and reported feeling calmer and less depressed with increased feelings of self-worth.
The other day, I was waiting on the subway platform and there was this stunning older woman who had INCREDIBLE style standing next to me. I’m talking head to toe, this lady was on fleek (that’s what the kids are saying these days, right?).
As I stood there admiring her, I kept saying to myself, “Self, you should tell her that she looks great.”
Which of course is easy to do. But talking to a stranger made thoughts like, “Will she think I’m crazy?” start to rise to the surface.
But then I thought, “Who doesn’t want to hear a compliment?” So I went for it!
“Excuse me, but I wanted to tell you that I love your style and you look fantastic! That coat is GORGEOUS.”
The way her face lit up was like I had handed her a million bucks. “Thank you so much. I have had a shitty morning and that just made my day. Thank you.”
What seemed slightly terrifying, was such a simple thing to do, and it put a smile on this chic dame’s face.
So how can we “work out” our kindness muscle?
Let’s start with exercising some Random Acts of Kindness (also known as RAKs).
“It’s kind of like weight training,” says Dr. Ritchie Davidson, founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin. “We found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”
And guess what? This shit is contagious! Positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people.
I recently read a story about a Starbucks drive-thru where someone offered to pay for the coffee of the car behind them and then it continued back for 10 cars!
National Random Act of Kindness Day, first created in Denver in 1995, will be observed this year on February 17. The idea behind this holiday is to make the world a better place by spreading a little light and is celebrated by individuals, groups, and organizations nationwide to encourage acts of kindness. Who better than the Ninja Army!
Join the RAK Challenge
For the entire month of February, I’m committing to performing at least one RAK per day. Wanna join me?
If you’re up for the challenge and want to build up your kindness muscles, join the Ninjas RAK FB Group where I’ll be posting a daily RAK challenge, like offering your seat to someone on the subway, buying the coffee for the person behind you in line at [insert preferred coffee shop], leaving a note for a coworker, etc. Feel free to post a pic of your RAK or let us know how it goes. And obvi hashtag #NinjasRAK
Let’s change the world one RAK at a time!
RAK hard, m’Ninjas
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams
Chris Crowthers (aka Master of the Universe at Mark Fisher Fitness) is the Director of Snatched in Six Weeks where he has helped over 2,000 unique Ninjas get healthier and hotter. When not teaching class or making playlists, Chris is enjoying sprinkling YAAAAAS all over NYC, whipping up some cast iron skillet dishes (#castironchris), and spending time with his husband and their new four-legged friend, Niles.