The Biology of Kindness
Six Daily Choices for Health, Well-Being, and Longevity
264 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: March 19, 2024
- Publisher: The MIT Press
How kindness—and other prosocial behaviors toward others—can help us live longer and healthier lives.
The science is in: being good is actually good for you. In this bracingly original book, The Biology of Kindness—the first in a trilogy on the topic of daily wellness—the science of mindfulness and the findings of biology come together to show how kindness and optimism improve overall well-being in profound, organic, and demonstrable ways. Daniel Lumera, an expert in meditation and mindfulness, and Immaculata De Vivo, a preeminent researcher in molecular epidemiology, outline a revolutionary approach to health, longevity, and quality of life—and explain the scientific evidence that supports their work.
Identifying five fundamental values—kindness, optimism, forgiveness, gratitude, and happiness—and describing six essential strategies for cultivating these values—relationships, nutrition, physical activity, meditation, music, and connection with nature—De Vivo and Lumera chart a practical course for pursuing a long, healthy, and happy life. Along the way they provide the scientific data that reveal the impact such behavior has on biology, particularly on telomeres, the parts of DNA that serve as biomarkers of aging. While DNA is mostly immutable, telomeres are influenced by our choices, and The Biology of Kindness offers incontrovertible evidence that what is commonly ascribed to “spiritual” well-being has a clear and direct impact on physical health, helping to buffer premature aging and decrease the incidence of chronic disease.
At a time when life seems to be ruled by a desire to get “everything and immediately,” Lumera observes, there is a compelling case to be made for the discipline of devotion, dedication, and passion—for the good of the body as well as the soul.
“The world desperately needs this book right now. As we risk losing our moral compass, De Vivo and Lumera muster hard scientific evidence for the guiding principles that will help us survive and thrive.”
Robert J. Waldinger, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; coauthor of The Good Life: Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness
“A wonderful book full of fascinating scientific insights explained with great clarity, inspiring us to let kindness reign in our hearts and thus accomplish the twofold benefit for others and oneself.”
Matthieu Ricard, author of Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World
“There is a myriad of books on health, well-being, longevity, and/or nutrition. However, The Biology of Kindness from De Vivo and Lumera stands out as a superb blending of all these topics orchestrated in a masterful way to provide the reader with evidence-based strategies to live long, happy lives.”
Alessio Fasano, Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, and Professor of Nutrition, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
“Expertly combining fascinating scientific insights and wisdom from contemplative traditions, the book inspires us to love, forgive, and ultimately know our true selves, while proving the benefits to our own health and the world around us.”
Elizabeth Hoge, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington DC