Saturday, July 19, 2008

"New Generation"

Take It From the Experts: Nice Guys and Gals Will Rule the World!

I'm a regular commuter and I've seen a lot of people get nasty while in transit. There are those who shove like mad at rush hour and those who "steal" the cabs you hail.

But before you despair entirely, be assured there are still some kind souls out there.

The other day for example, I saw a young woman give her cab to an old man. As the cab sped off with the grateful gentleman, the young woman's friend, who was standing on the sidewalk with her, said irritably, "You can't be too kind all the time!"

Was the young woman's friend right?, I wondered. Is being kind all the time really a bad thing?

In the past, I myself have been guilty of chiding some of my friends for being "too nice." After all, in this highly competitive world we live in, we're taught to believe that nice guys and gals always finish last.

So, I decided to do a little research into the concept and it turns out several experts have undertaken studies that prove nice guys and gals may very well rule the world. Here's why:

1. They take control. In Kindness: Changing People's Lives for the Better, Zelig Pliskin, an Orthodox rabbi, says that being kind "helps you feel in control." By doing a good deed, you're saying, "Here's something I can do to make the world better."

2. They're on a high. Each time you do a kind deed, you get "a rush of endorphins that lasts for hours," says trainer Kimberly Kingsley, author of The Energy Cure: How to Recharge Your Life 30 Seconds at a Time. (By the way, this endorphin surge is aptly named "helper's high.")

3. They're the fittest. Allan Luks, the former executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Health, undertook a kindness study for his book,

The Healing Power of Doing Good:

The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others. His survey of 3,000 volunteer workers revealed that these kindhearted people were able to overcome health problems--like ulcers, respiratory ailments, and stress--right after they played Good Samaritan.

Still, you must keep in mind that the acts of kindness that you do should really matter. "Passing out smiley-face stickers or leaving lucky pennies on the sidewalk may not yield fulfillment," says University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt, author of The

Happiness Hypothesis. Thus, he recommends choosing deeds that strengthen social ties. After all, as he put it, "it's really all about building relationships."

So, the next time I hear someone getting flak for being "too kind," I'll step in and set the record straight. The world needs all the nice people it can get.

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