Being kind to others is as rewarding as eating chocolate and having sex, according to scientists.
A recent study by the University of California, found that performing a selfless act of kindness triggers the release of the same feelgood chemical in the brain, dopamine, as when we give ourselves a treat.
"The ventral striatum is typically active in response to simple rewards, such as chocolate, sex and money," says researcher Naomi Eisenberger.
"It now seems likely that some of the health benefits of social support actually come from the support we provide to others."
But with all the daily pressures of work, relationships, finances and health worries, living a kind-hearted existence can be challenging.
Michael J Chase, author of Am I Being Kind, believes in the Dailai Lama philosophy that, "world peace must develop out of inner peace" and says that being compassionate isn't as hard as you think as you just need to identify the 'keys' to kindness.
Being Aware - become mindful of your thoughts, words and actions
Asking - ask yourself each day 'Am I Being Kind?'
Performing - perform spontaneous acts of kindness
To encompass the simple acts of kindness, you need to turn your 'to-do' attitude into 'to-be' by adopting the following kindness principles:
Kindness towards yourself
Self-kindness means nourishing your life with healthy food, exercise, laughter, a career you love and personal and spiritual growth. It also means making room in your schedule for activities that inspire you, spending some time alone in silence, and always choosing kind thoughts about yourself
Kindness towards others
You'll encounter dozens of opportunities each day to be kind to others. Practice kindness toward your family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers. Speak kind words about people, be a good listener, smile often and give sincere apologies.
Kindness towards the earth
Make time each day to be kind to the earth. This practice starts with simple things that you may already be doing. Ride your bike or walk rather than drive, recycle, pick up the trash, purchase environmentally friendly products and be compassionate towards animals and all living things.
After you've nailed the key principles of kindness, take a look at the nine elements to a kind heart, by author Michael J Chase.