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Letter: Be kind, be happy

Did you know that kindness to others can literally make us happier?

I just returned from a human services conference in Duluth that over 3,000 people attended. The workshops had new, innovative ideas and information about neuroscience and how early childhood trauma affects brain and emotional development, plus actual video clips of "a thought" turning into a new neural pathway and even more about the neurotransmitters that drive our behavior.

Take Dopamine. We all know it, it's the feel good chemical. Dark chocolate can raise dopamine levels 150 percent. Cocaine can raise dopamine 1,000 percent, and methamphetamine can increase it 2,000 percent.

It turns out "kindness" can also increase dopamine levels. Wow! What an incredible idea to think about and create a new neural pathway for. What if we could put this into action?

Luckily, we can, and quite simply. On Nov. 9, the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce Counties will be asking everyone to engage in united acts of kindness. It's part of a statewide initiative and locally we will come together Nov. 9 with an invitation to do a random act of kindness for another: people, animals and the environment.

Recognizing that kindness can scientifically raise our own dopamine levels, and being offered a simple, concrete way to apply that science for our own benefit (and others), what a wonderful feeling we all would get (at the same time) for consciously being kind to others on United Acts of Kindness Day. Wouldn't it be exciting to see where that feeling could lead? I'm in.

Linda Flanders

Red Wing

Linda Flanders is development coordinator of HOPE Coalition.