Put down the electromagnetic field detector, Miranda Kerr! The true secret to wellness has been found.
According to Columbia University psychiatrist Kelli Harding, one of the most important keys to health and wellness has nothing to do with minimalism, snake oil gummies, or appropriative, commodified versions of meaningful Indigenous American practices. It’s not even nutrition, exercise, or even sleeping. It’s kindness. Maybe you’ve heard of it? That’s right. Being kind.
"The hug you give your child or your spouse when you walk out the door makes a difference, and not only with them,” said Harding in a recent interview with radio show Knowledge@Wharton about her new book, The Rabbit Effect. “There's this really exciting science of epigenetics and telomere research that shows that loving actions actually change our physiology.”
Harding detailed “the rabbit study,” which also happens to be where she got her book’s title from. In 1978, researchers found that rabbits were less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke if they were shown physical affection and other forms of care while being fed. Over the subsequent four decades, scientists have continued to find that positive relationships with others lower stress and blood pressure and can even boost our immune systems after we’re injured.
This all makes sense. When people are nice to me, I feel better, and when I feel better, my quality of life goes up, and so on. But it would also cut into my daily allotted time for Being a Bitch, which is very important to me, personally! How can I reconcile the two? Harding didn’t clarify. She did say that some of that money we’re spending on health care could be spent on kindness(?), though, which… I’m less certain I agree with.
"We spend a fortune on medical care in this country—far more than other countries per capita. But we're not getting the health results we want,” Harding continued. “It's probably because we're really doubling down on the medical care and not investing in our social world the way that we could.”
As a humble Mrs. Bloghag, I couldn’t be less qualified to debate a literal professional psychiatrist. But I don’t quite understand the binary she’s attempting to construct, which positions “spending money on medical care” and “investing in our social world,” i.e., being kind to one another. I would argue that spending money on medical care would be one of the greatest acts of kindness our government could take on at the moment. Just imagine how happy we’d all be and how much longer we’d all live if the government syphoned off some of its multi-billion dollar military spending and funneled it into “kindness,” i.e., paying off everyone’s medical expenses.
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