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Can we measure happiness and is kindness the new currency?

  • Nicola Jedrej

Along with the words of “unprecedented” and “PPE”, “kindness” is one of the populist words of the crisis, frequently quoted by politicians, media and public figures . If we are kind, either individually or corporately can we ease the burden of mental health issues, so crucial in these recent months?

Even before COVID-19 New Zealand took the step of adopting the Happiness Index, a marker that focuses on the wellbeing of the citizens rather than an economic bottom line. The index allocates budgets with the aim to increase the welfare of all citizens instead of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. All new spending must advance one of five government priorities to improve wellbeing.

“Kindness” was a key driver in the successful COVID -19 campaign in New Zealand – the message of being aware of how others felt and empathy was critical to the well managed campaign across the country. Can we adopt this mentality as one of the lessons from COVID-19, to align populations and lessen the mental health crisis?

Kindness to ourselves and others could have wider benefits aside from well being and mental health. In a study (2019 Dr Kelli Harding from Columbia University) interesting called the Rabbit Effect,  explored the physical benefits from kindness. Focusing specifically on the positive connections from others it found a lessening of inflammatory responses making us less prone to disease. The clinical side effects were zero, but gave rise to both physical and mental improvements in the cohort study.

Kindness costs nothing and perhaps we emerge from lockdown into a kinder “new normal” using a treatment that has no cost associated and no limits.  As Mike Cropp, CEO of Independent Health said during our iFHP Executive Podcast, there is huge value in the benefit of human connection.

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