Watch my succinct summary of David's excellent book if you would like to learn more about the science behind how kindness improves your health!
P.S Be kind, Subscribe for more videos - This counts towards your 7-day kindness challenges ;)
PM: What caused you to shift your career from completing a rigorous organic chemistry PhD and then working for pharmaceutical companies to then becoming an author and discussing kindness?
DH: While working in the pharmaceutical industry, it was actually a fascination with the placebo effect that first led me to study how our minds and emotions impact our health. I have a passion for teaching so I left the industry because I wanted to educate people and this area became my passion.
PM: What was the inspiration and drive to began specifically writing about kindness?
DH: I knew a lot about drug strategies for treating cardiovascular problems and one day, while researching for another book I was writing at the time, I came across some research suggesting that kindness impacted the heart. When I examined it more closely, I realized that nature was doing exactly what we, as scientists, were trying to do with cardiovascular drugs - nature was using the exact same process as some drug strategies I was familiar with. I decided to research the subject more fully and pull all the information together on the different ways that kindness can impact our health and emotional wellbeing.
PM: After reading the Five Side Effects of Kindness, one is inspired to be kind not only because of the profound impact it can have on others but also on our own health. But like many things in life it is hard to make long last positive change. Any specific advice you would have for anybody that would like kindness to be as integrated into their day as brushing their teeth is?
DH: It’s all about creating a habit, I believe. I often invite people to try my 7-day kindness challenge. The challenge is that you must do at least one act of kindness a day for seven days. There’s a few ground rules to make it interesting. a) You must do something different each day. You can do the same thing on two days if you wish, but it only counts the first time. b) You must push yourself out of your comfort zone at least once, and c) At least one of your acts of kindness must be completely anonymous. Doing this helps people to develop a habit of looking out for opportunities to be kind and acting on them. If you really want to wire in the habit, make it a 21-day kindness challenge.
PM: In your book, the Five Side Effects of Kindness, you spend some time discussing how Rosetto, PA seemed to be spared from heart disease that was ravaging the rest of the US at the time. Do you have any specific ideas how we can all begin to grow and cultivate a sense of community in our local area?
DH: Simply getting clear in our minds how important it is to form bonds with each other helps. It motivates us to reach out more to each other. It is highly important. As well as the Roseto Effect, many other studies show that people who have more positive interactions have healthier hearts, stronger immune systems, and tend to live longer. It’s because community and kindness is wired in us. Our ancient ancestors lived together in small communities so we’ve evolved to be healthier when we’re connecting with and supporting each other. Nature made it healthy for us because community and kindness was crucial for the survival of our species.
Some things we can all do is make an effort to keep up with friends, connect with our neighbours, join clubs, go to evening classes, don’t wait to be invited into things … invite others into things you do and participate in.
PM: What piece of advice would you give to an burgeoning young scientiest on choosing the 'right' career path? I feel given your unique career you would be well suited to answer this question.
DH: As corny as it sounds, follow your passion. What ideas get you out of bed in the morning? Follow that direction.
This interview was jam packed with so much high quality information, I hope you all enjoyed it! It is so easy when you are a busy medical student, to get lost in your own world. But do not forget the profound power of taking a moment to pause and be kind. Doing so will not only strengthen the bonds of your community, but also improve your health so you can continue doing more of the awesome work you are already doing. Lastly, I know when the work is piling up the last thing on your mind is reaching out to your community and strengthening those relationships, but it is the MOST important thing you can do not only for your well being but for also maximizing your performance.
If you would like to learn more about the excellent work Dr. David Hamilton is doing, you can connect with him on his website, twitter, instagram, and youtube.
If you can’t sustain it’s not worth it,
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I am a medical student who is obsessed with the Be Activated Muscle Activation Technique, mastering movement and understanding what makes humans thrive.