Kindness Is More Infectious Than Covid-19
The neuroscience of treating people well
We’ve heard how deadly Covid-19 is. We all now know science terms we’d never imagined learning, like “R naught” (the term for how quickly a virus replicates) and “flatten the curve.” This pandemic has also infected us with fear, frustration, anger, and anxiety — which have left many of us feeling exhausted and defeated, wondering when this will all end.
With no clear end in sight, uncertainty infects our brains, urging us into action. Instances of pent-up aggression are increasingly aired on the internet when a bystander catches someone going off the rails, yelling at someone else for not wearing a mask in public (or standing their ground in defense of their “freedom” to choose not to wear one).
We all know what it’s like when someone offends our sense of right and wrong and we stew on it until we blow our top at that person — or some innocent stand-in toward whom we direct our displaced aggression. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as decades-old research has shown that when we ruminate about something, we become more aggressive toward others.
We’re so busy judging each other for not doing the right thing that many of us have missed something. Something big. Something more contagious than the virus itself. Something that will help us all get through this and come out stronger and more resilient on the other side.
I’m talking about kindness. Pure and simple.
I’ve seen how infectious kindness can be when tearing up after reading a news story of a cop in Florida sitting down and sharing his lunch with a homeless person. I’ve felt the resonance of kindness in my chest after seeing a video of a middle-aged white man putting a stethoscope to the chest of a 20-year-old Black man who recently suffered a surprise heart attack and listening to the beating heart — of the white man’s deceased daughter, which had been donated to the Black man. Their subsequent hug said it all: a tragic death resurrected as life through kindness.
And believe it or not, wearing a face mask in public is not a sign of your politics, but a simple act of kindness.
Why is kindness more infectious than Covid-19? Here’s another science term that…