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The Superpower of Kindness

by Kate Szetela, Manager, Adjunct Faculty Support


I recently attended a World Happiness Summit where thought leaders from around the world offered evidence-based perspectives about well-being including Dr. Kelly Harding, author of The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness.  

Dr. Harding’s research is inspired by patients she encountered who defied their diagnoses of serious illness –who are living life to their fullest- even thriving in many respects. 

So what do rabbits have to do with it? A groundbreaking study occurred accidentally the in 1970s when Dr. Nerem performed an experiment on genetically identical rabbits designed to learn how a high-fat diet impacts heart health.  There was one group of bunnies that was significantly healthier than the others.  They found that the researcher in charge of those rabbits was picking them up, petting them, and giving them love and kindness. A repeat study showed the same effect.  Since then, scientific evidence is now proving what many would say is common sense – kindness and connection not only makes you happier but healthier.

Educators play a significant role in boosting health.  Dr. Harding found that for every one life saved by biomedicine, it seems as though education saves eight.  One statistic suggested that not finishing a high school education was the equivalent of a lifetime of smoking.  As teaching is often linked to a purpose or calling, there is increasing evidence that having a life of purpose and feeling optimistic can prolong telomeres that help us live longer and live better when illnesses come. 



Harding, K. The rabbit effect: Live longer, happier and healthier with the groundbreaking science of kindness.  Atria Press.

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