US university launches kindness institute

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Lending a helping hand to a co-worker, checking in on an elderly neighbor or allowing someone to cut in front of you in a traffic jam.

Such random acts of kindness have been scientifically proven to improve one's well-being and they will now be the focus of a new Kindness Institute unveiled on Wednesday at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

The institute, the first of its kind, will aim to empower citizens and inspire leaders to build more humane societies through the study of actions, thoughts, feeling and social institutions associated with kindness.

"In the midst of current world politics, violence and strife, the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute seeks to be an antidote," said Darnell Hunt, dean of the UCLA division of social sciences, where the institute will be based.

Already, a range of researchers at UCLA are studying the types of questions that will be the basis of the institute?s work, university officials said.

"Our vision is that we will all live in a world where humanity discovers and practices the kindness that exists in all of us," said Matthew Harris, the foundation's co-founder. "Much research is needed to understand why kindness can be so scarce in the modern world."

Scientific research has shown in the past that acts of kindness greatly benefit one's physical and mental health.