Dr David Hamilton: The Power Of Placebo & The 5 Side effects Of Kindness | 180 Nutrition

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Dr David Hamilton: The Power Of Placebo & The 5 Side effects Of Kindness

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Guy:  This week welcome to the show Dr. David Hamilton. David has a first class honors degree in chemistry, specializing in biological and medicinal chemistry. He has the slightly geeky honour of having achieved 100% in his 3rd year university degree exam in ‘Statistical Mechanics’, which is a branch of quantum physics applied to chemistry.

After completing his PhD, he worked for 4 years in the pharmaceutical industry, first developing drugs for cardiovascular disease and cancer, then a year managing leadership and change projects. During this time he also served as an athletics coach and manager of Sale Harriers Manchester, one of the UK’s largest athletics clubs, leading the Junior Men’s team to three successive UK finals. Upon leaving the pharmaceutical industry, he co-founded the international relief charity Spirit Aid Foundation and served as a director for 2 years.

While writing his first book (2004-2005), he taught chemistry (main) plus ecology and mathematics (secondary) at West College Scotland (formerly, James Watt College of Further and Higher Education) and tutored chemistry at the University of Glasgow.

He’s now a bestselling author of 8 books (No’s 9 and 10 are due out in 2017) published by Hay House UK, and offer talks and workshops that use science to inspire – fusing neuroscience, the mind-body connection, kindness, and philosophical and eastern spiritual teachings. He also writes a regular blog on his website as well as occasional blogs for the Huffington Post (US edition) and Psychologies Life Labs, and is a columnist for Soul and Spirit Magazine. In 2016, David won the Kindred Spirit, ‘Best MBS Writer Award’.

He has been featured in numerous publications, including ELLE, RED Magazine, Psychologies, YOU Magazine, Good Housekeeping (both UK & US), and several newspapers.

You might wonder how he got into writing on the subjects he does. In his own words, “Well, during my time in the pharmaceutical industry, I was fascinated by the placebo effect – how people improve through believing they are receiving a drug – so I began to study mind-body interactions in my spare time. I decided to leave the pharmaceutical industry after 4 years because I wanted to educate about the mind-body connection, help people to believe in themselves more, and spread a little more kindness in the world in my own way.”

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Questions we ask in this episode:

  • You specialized in biological and medicinal chemistry. Why did you decide to look at the placebo effect?
  • How powerful do you think the placebo really is?
  • What inspired you to write your new book, The 5 Side Effects of Kindness?
  • What are the 5 side effects of kindness?
  • Can you tell this listeners what “molecules of kindness are?”

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Full Transcript

Guy

[00:00:30] [00:01:00] Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another stellar episode of the health sessions, of course, where we are connecting with leading global health and wellness experts to share the best of the latest science and thinking powering us to turn our health and lives around. And boy do we have another cracking episode for you today. We have on the show Dr David Hamilton, and I have to say I truly loved every minute of this show. Now David has a first class honors degree in chemistry, specializing in biological and medicinal chemistry. After completing his PhD he worked for four years in the pharmaceutical industry, first developing drugs for cardiovascular disease and cancer, then a year managing leadership and change projects. Now he is also a best selling author of 8 books published by Hay House in the UK, and offers talks and workshops that use science to inspire, fusing neuroscience, the mind body connection, kindness and a philosophical and eastern spiritual teaching, so yes you can see why I loved this episode so much.

[00:01:30] [00:02:00] And what I loved about David’s journey, A) he is just an upbeat positive awesome dude, but from that as well we get stuck into the placebo at first and what he was seeing from back in his pharmaceutical days, and comparing that to the actual drugs people were taking, which is just fascinating, and then we get into his new book, the Side Effects of Kindness, and he talks at it from a biological and physical perspective as well of what is going on, and it was just fascinating, and yeah it was awesome, so if you want to do an act of kindness after listening to this show, feel free to leave us a review on iTunes, or actually share this episode with someone that you think might really appreciate it. Because there is a lot in here and I have no doubt you will enjoy it as well. Now you might have heard me mention on a couple of podcasts in the past, I’ve personally myself set up a closed Facebook group and the group is designed, if you kind of enjoy this information and this content, me personally I have a lot of interest in meditation, neuroscience and the changes that are going on within myself and my life, and it has had a huge positive impact on me over the last 3 or 4 years as I have been exploring a lot of it. [00:02:30] Anyway I have created this Facebook group called Guy Lawrence Let It In, and if this kind of stuff inspires you, you enjoy it and you want to hang out with like minded people, come on over and, yeah I will welcome you into the group and come and introduce yourself and let me know you found it on the podcast. Anyway, so I just want to mention that. It is Guy Lawrence Let It In, just do a Facebook search. Anyway lets go over to Dr David Hamilton, this episode is awesome. Hi this is Guy Lawrence, I am joined with Stuart Cook as always, good afternoon Stu.

Stu

Hello mate.

Guy

And our awesome guest today all the way from the UK, is Dr David Hamilton. David, welcome to the show.

David

Oh well, thanks very much, nice to be here. [00:03:00]

Guy

It is a pleasure mate, and we ask one little question just to kick start the show to all our guests, and that is if a complete stranger stopped you on the street and asked you what you did for a living, what would you say?

David

I write books and I give talks. In a nutshell. I would probably tell them the kind of topic that I wrote on but it depends on how … if we were moving fast in opposite directions. [00:03:30]

Guy

I can believe it, an answer like that would definitely raise curiosity. Can you just share a bit of your journey then, because I am fascinated, I have been kind of following you for the last 6-9 months when I first stumbled across some of your youtube videos, David, and just take us back into the pharmaceutical industry days and that, and then what led you into where you are today, really. [00:04:00]

David

[00:04:30] [00:05:00] Sure, I got into the pharmaceutical industry because I have a PhD in organic chemistry. Now organic chemistry has nothing to do with organic food. It is like the way that a kid builds buildings and cars our of leg bricks, you know those colored block, and organic chemistry is exactly the same thing but instead of using colored blocks we use atoms, so carbons, hydrogens, nitrogens. But the concept is exactly the same, you build these 3 dimensional structures. Except the organic chemist structures we build end up as drugs. So people that may usually end up in the pharmaceutical industry are literally building drugs. And I was building them for cardiovascular disease and for cancer. I loved doing that, the science of that was really exciting beautiful science. But what fascinated me so much more was what happens when you test the drugs. Because you have to prove that they work, and the only way you can do that is to give the drug to a bunch of people. But then you must give the same number of people a fake drug, which most people now know is called the placebo, you give a sugar pill, the classic sugar pill.

[00:05:30] And what really found amazing is out of lets say 100 people received the drug, and maybe a decent cardiovascular drug for example, my main field, lets say you had 75 people who showed an improvement on the drug, and you think “Whoa this is a really good drug, well done organic chemistry”. But then you give another 100 people the placebo, the sugar pill and what I found astonishing is that you might get you know maybe 40, 50, 60, 70, sometimes 75, that or thereabouts, also improving on the placebo, the sugar pill. Because they thought they were getting the drug. And I thought that was absolutely compelling. So incredibly amazing, and I remember my colleagues would just dismiss it, “Oh it is just a placebo effect”. It was a sweeping movement with the right hand. Even if they were left handed it was still just a placebo effect.

[00:06:00] [00:06:30] But it really got under my skin and I couldn’t let it go because there is no way that this could be just a placebo effect. So I started to look into it in my spare time while working as a scientist, in my spare time I was probably doing as much work researching the mind body connection, and what is it that causes a thought or a feeling about something, or a belief about something to cause a healing physiological effect, and after 4 years of that, gathering data and stuff, I resigned from the pharmaceutical industry and decided that I would write books and give talks. But largely on that very broad field.

Stu

Fantastic. Is there actually sugar in the sugar pill, or is it just called the sugar pill?

David

[00:07:00] Traditionally there is a sugar called lactose, not quite as sweet as the stuff that you put in your tea or your coffee, but that is traditionally why it is called a sugar pill, because it is lactose. But they really … it is like sugar, blackboard chalk, and glue. Like not actually superglue, like to stick your fingers together, but …

Stu

It is all about prit stick. David: Yeah yeah, but you know if you make a cake, then you have to bind your ingredients together with an egg, otherwise it is just powder, so in a placebo you have like a binder, but there is no medical benefit from it. So that is why they call it an empty pill or a sugar pill. [crosstalk 00:07:25].

Stu

I was just thinking maybe we have got it wrong with this low sugar message. [00:07:30]

Guy

I was curious to ask as well, you know, when you are testing the patients, what condition are they health in, and how powerful is that placebo effect?

David

[00:08:00] [00:08:30] It can be very powerful. What you tend to do, you have different types of medical trials, but typically you are giving the drug to people who have lets say cardiovascular disease. And so maybe lets say they have high blood pressure. So you are giving people with high blood pressure the drug, and you also give people with high blood pressure the placebo. And the placebo effect, people traditionally quote a figure of 35%, and that was based on research done back in the 1950s. But placebo effect is not 35%. It really varies very very broadly. You can actually induce a placebo effect up to nearly 100% of people, most people, but it can also be very low. It depends on the condition you are studying, it depends on the language the doctors or nurses administering, it depends on their language, it depends on the setting, for example if you wear a white coat, glasses, have a little bit of gray hair, and administer the placebo in a brown bottle, not a clear bottle, then these are ways that the placebo effect will higher. [00:09:00] The placebo effect will be higher if you give it in a brown bottle rather than a clear bottle. Because as children we have faith, “Oh it is a brown bottle, it must be real thing”.

Stu

Yeah.

David

So you can create a context which means that the placebo effect will be higher or lower depending on what the person is feeling or thinking about it. So it is not 35%, it really is a very broad spectrum. To study it you tend to create conditions to make it very high, and then you get lots of people experiencing a placebo effect. [00:09:30] Stu: So would you say then that the placebo effect is probably going to be more beneficial to the optimist vs the pessimist?

David

[00:10:00] Well typically yes. Optimists tend to respond better to a placebo, and pessimists respond better to a nocebo. And the nocebo is called the evil twin. It is the opposite. So when a placebo makes people improve their symptoms, a nocebo makes people get worse. So pessimists tend to go down the way with the nocebo, optimist tend to go up the way with the placebo.

Stu

Oh my word.

Guy

So you literally have to sort of act, believe and surrender to the diagnosis you have been give and fully buy into it?

David

if you are going to get a placebo effect, only if the person giving you the placebo that you think is a drug is saying something optimistic. That this will really work for you.

Guy

Got you. [00:10:30]

David

[00:11:00] There was a trial a number of years ago called … I can’t remember the name of it, I think it was “The power of positive consultation”. And it was a number of people, patients who had the same overall conditions, and half of them were given a positive consultation, and half of them were given a negative consultation, in other words the doctors were studied for their language. So where some of the doctors said “Oh don’t worry about it, take a couple of headache pills, this will be absolutely fine, couple of weeks you will be totally fine, if by chance you are not feeling 100% in a few weeks, come back and see me and we will see what we can do”. So that was called the positive consultation. Another half of them were given a negative consultation. So the doctor said “I am really not sure what is happening here, you could take a headache pill but I am really not sure, but you could try it, lets see if it works, if it doesn’t work, then you will need to come back and see me”. [00:11:30] [00:12:00] 62% of the patients who got a positive consultation were free of symptoms in a fortnight, whereas only 26% of those who had a negative consultation were free of symptoms. So more than twice the difference. All it came down to was the language that the doctor used, how self assuring and believing, how much the doctor seemed to believe as well, so it really comes down a lot to the doctors language, because of how that makes you feel. At the end of the day it is how do I feel, and so therefore what do I believe. It is you as a person. Therefore a doctor can create a context, use particular language, or any person really, to affect how you feel, so if you feel good about it, then that is when you get a higher placebo effect.

Guy

Amazing.

Stu

Unbelievable.

Guy

[00:12:30] I was going to say that makes me think as well about something some of the other guests have talked about, and I think it was Bruce Lipton we have on the show, when he was saying 70% of our thoughts are generally negative. And 90% of the thoughts we have are the same as yesterday. Or something like that, and you just think “Wow”, like we could literally be telling ourselves …

Stu

[00:13:00] Well I remember on that interview as well Guy, Bruce Lipton said you will often find that people who are sick and have booked an appointment start to heal and recover before they ever get to the doctors because now they have got the thought in their mind that “I am going to the doctors, I am going to be fixed”. And it is a positive thought. And when they arrive at the doctors they don’t feel like there is anything wrong with them anymore.

David

[00:13:30] Yeah, because that positive thought and the feeling, “You know what, I am going to be fine now”. So the dominant thought is “I’m fine now”, you know the subconscious mind doesn’t always hear “I’m going to be fine”, it is just “I’m fine now”. And that thought, the belief, the feeling, begins to create changes in your brain chemistry. And wherever your attention was focused, lets say it was on your wrist, then than actually begins to send signals to your wrist and begin to affect the cellular activity in the area of the wrist, so there is actually a real physical connection between the brain and the body, affected by what you are thinking about, and the direction that you are thinking.

Guy

With the intention [crosstalk 00:13:49].

Stu

[00:14:00] Brilliant, I love the science behind that, that is really … for me if you can answer that with science then it is like, wow, it just makes perfect sense.

Guy

So once you discovered this information and you could see it first hand going on, and it is not just like people palming it off in the industry, going “Oh yeah, we’ll figure that out in another ten years, lets keep pushing the drugs”. So what was your next step? You wrote a book on it did you or did you start …

David

[00:14:30] [00:15:00] Yeah. I gathered a lot of data, you know looking through the medical journals, we had a fantastic library in the drugs company I worked for, so I spent a lot of time down there researching not just the placebo effect but everything I could find in all the related disciplines, like meditation, mindfulness meditation, which is also a mind body effect, because you take your attention away from lets say stress, something that bothers you, and you bring your attention to the sound of your breath, so that is a mind body effect, because it is where your attention is that is causing you physical effects. So I researched meditation, placebo effect, and other kind of related disciplines, and I thought “This is amazing, why does no on know about this in the general public?”. So after 4 years I just decided my passion was education, and although I loved kind of sticking atoms together, I was more inspired to write and to communicate really, so I decided one day “I am leaving.” [00:15:30] I was actually attending a personal development seminar led by the big giant American Tony Robbins, we were all kind of pumped up and he took us through this big visualization, and he said “Now make a decision that will change your life”, and I went “That is it, I am quitting my job”. I hadn’t really thought it all the way through. I didn’t really know how to do what I did, but it has kind of worked out in the long term. But I decided I am going to write books and give talks really. So that is kind of what happened.

Guy

We were just discussing off air Stu, was it 9 books you have …? David: 9 books yeah. [00:16:00] Guy: In the last 5 years, amazing.

Stu

Lets kick of with your new book, the 5 Side Effects of Kindness. So tell you a little bit about that if you would.

David

[00:16:30] [00:17:00] Quite a few years ago I was … as I do I read through medical journals and stuff, and I found this research where people were doing a Tibetan Buddhist loving kindness meditation. And the essence of that is you are cultivating feeling of love kindness and compassion for yourself and for other people, even for animals, so the concept is you generate this feeling of emotional warmth, centered around love kindness and compassion. And amazingly they were getting a physical antiinflammatory effect. They were stimulating selectively one part of the nervous system over another, and causing an antiinflammatory effect. Now I happen to know a lot about that particular antiinflammatory effect because it is one of the strategies used in pharmaceutical companies for cardiovascular research. And so you can often determine how good a drug is working if you can reduce levels of what is called the marker. So one of the markers I was familiar with, if i could measure my height I would mark the wall, and that is called a marker, the level on the wall. [00:17:30] [00:18:00] [00:18:30] So when you are testing pharmaceutical drugs, if you drop the levels of a marker, then that would indicate the drug is working. So I happened to know a lot about that particular marker from my time in the pharmaceutical industry. And they got this very substantial drop in this marker, so this antiinflammatory effect inside the body and the arteries. All they were doing was generating feelings of love kindness and compassion. And I thought “That is extraordinary”. So I decided that I am going to dedicate the next portion of my time to research all the information I can find in science, psychology, cardiovascular, everything I can find in the journals, it shows that being kind and showing empathy and compassion or feeling love and affection can have a physical health giving effect. So the 5 side effects of kindness really came out of that. Kindness makes us happier, it is good for the heart, it slows aging, it improves relationships, and it is contagious. And this was really just me gathering together all the information that just fell into these 5 categories.

Guy

Amazing, amazing.

Stu

Brilliant.

Guy

And that takes us back into the placebo because you talk about a feeling isn’t it, once you think a certain way then you feel a certain way, then it is having that physiological response in the body. David: [00:19:00] [00:19:30] Exactly, that is the essence of it because people talk about “I feel stressed”. And it is the feeling of stress, independent of the situation, people talk about “That thing made me stressed”, it is not the thing itself that causes the physical effect in the body, it is your feelings about it. So this person who causes me stress. That person, yeah, creates the environment, but it is how you feel about that person and the situation, that feeling generates in the body stress hormones, cortisol, adrenaline, these are the classic stress hormones, it is because of how you feel. So turn that around, when you be kind, or you show compassion or empathy, or affection or love, that the feelings brought about by that, instead of producing stress hormones, they produce two different substance. I call them affectionately, molecules of kindness. It it the name I give them. One of them is oxytocin and the other one is nitric oxide, both of which are actually cardiovascular drugs. [00:20:00] They are both cardioprotective. That is the name, cardioprotective is a name given to a substance that protects the heart and the arteries. So oxytocin and nitric oxide have significant cardioprotective effect, and you generate them both just by being kind.

Guy

Wow.

Stu

[00:20:30] So what is the top strategy to be able to release that kindness, get the oxytocin and nitric oxide flowing? Is it something like meditation, or watching cat videos on youtube, all of that kind of stuff? What should we do?

David

[00:21:00] [00:21:30] All of those things, but as a matter of fact the best thing to do is to be kind frequently. And you don’t have to do … people think, oh be kind, I have to do this massive big thing, because we think kindness, we don’t realize that most people most of the time are actually being kind. But what we are looking for is we think “Oh I have to do”, you don’t realize what you do. I was writing this book and I said to my mum, I was in the house one day and I said to my mum, “When did you last do an act of kindness?” She said “I don’t know”. And I said “You have just made me a sandwich and a cup of tea”, [crosstalk 00:21:11]. So we tend not to notice, so what I say to people is on purpose do a large number of small acts of kindness, and as these small acts of kindness that generate that warmth, but consistent warmth that you feel, makes you feel connected, it is called elevation, you feel that kind of warmth and elevated. And it is that feeling, when you notice that you are doing it, and that is the key, you do it on purpose. It is that feeling that generates the oxytocin and the nitric oxide. So you don’t have to change someone’s life, you just have to make someone a sandwich and a cup of tea.

Stu

Brilliant.

Guy

I am guessing that you have to genuinely be kind and mean it, right, it is not like …

David

That is exactly it.

Guy

I’ve done my 10 minute kindness quota for today, I can crack on with my day now. [00:22:00]

David

[00:22:30] That is exactly it Guy. I call this nature’s catch 22. You cannot get the side effects of kindness, the health giving side effects of kindness, unless you absolutely mean it. Because the only way to deliver that warmth and feeling of affection is if you mean it. So you can’t say “I’m going the do a quick … I’ll make someone a cup of tea, I’ll pick up that person’s dropped 10 dollar bill, hand it to them, that’ll do me, that is me chalked up another act of kindness”. It doesn’t work that way, because if there is no emotional warmth, there is no genuine feeling to it, then you don’t get any of the side effects. So it is natures catch 22, it is built into us that you have to mean it to feel it. And the only way you are going to get the benefits is if you feel it.

Guy

Now you quickly mentioned 5 earlier, and I am sure you mentioned them, but I am still racking my brain as to what they were. So can we drill down into the 5 side effects a little bit and the response [crosstalk 00:22:56]. [00:23:00] David: [00:23:30] Just a wee bit, just a little bit of each one. So the first side effect is that kindness makes us happier. And I think this one is most people’s experience actually. You feel good when you help someone out. And it used to be called helpers high, that high you get from helping someone. Nowadays when psychologists properly study it they call it elevation, you feel that little bit of upliftment when you help someone, it feels good. And so studies on that find that if you are doing that quite a lot of the time it has a net lifting effect on your emotional wellbeing. So you tend to feel happier in the long term. Regardless of what age you are, they have done studies with young people, all ages, and very older people. It is the fact that you are being consistent with being kind that creates an overall increase in your happiness. So that is the first one. [00:24:00] [00:24:30] The second one is kindness is good for your heart. And the reason for that is the feeling that you get from being kind generates the oxytocin and nitric oxide. Now these do amazing things. When oxytocin and nitric oxide get into your arteries, which happens very quick, your arteries go like that, and they expand. So it is called the dilation of the arteries. Now the moment your artery increases in size, that means that your heart doesn’t have to push as hard to get the blood through, so the heart eases off the pressure. So your blood pressure drops. At the same time, oxytocin sweeps the crap out of the arteries. The crap of course, that is the technical biochemical word. It is basically the substances that scientist have identified that are really consequences of stress and unhealthy living, that when they gradually build up they lead to heart disease. So oxytocin actually sweeps the crap out. So it acts as an antiinflammatory and an antioxidant in a nutshell. [00:25:00] [00:25:30] At the same time, nitric oxide helps to regulate cholesterol levels, get the right balance, and nitric oxide seems to act like a little sweeping brush on the plaque that builds up in the arterial walls. So the more nitric oxide you get in your arteries, really all the good for you. And nitric oxide also helps to get blood out to all of your extremities, to your organs, your brain, your heart, liver, kidneys, everywhere. So they are significantly cardioprotective. They protect the heart very significantly. And the way to get them in your body is how you feel. And so you be kind, you show compassion and empathy, and you mean it, and you put copious quantities, it is like you turn a little tap on in your arteries and out comes the oxytocin and nitric oxide. So that is number two. [00:26:00] [00:26:30] Number 3 is kind of slows aging. Now there are a number of different ways, there are what you call processes of aging, there are things that happen visibly, and inside the body as you age. They are called processes of aging. And so one of them is the gradual deterioration of the immune system, that gradually weakens as we get older. That is why people tend to get ill more when they are older. Now there is something known as the Mother Theresa effect, and the Mother Theresa effect came from a study where scientists got people to watch a video, about an hour long, of Mother Theresa carrying out acts of kindness and compassion on the streets of Calcutta. And they had their immune systems measured at the beginning and at the end of this video, and then several hours later. And amazingly just by watching the video, and the warm feelings that it generated, the immune system went up by about 50%. And it stayed there for several hours afterwards. And the scientists explained the several hours afterwards as the people who watched the video kept talking about it for rest of the day. [00:27:00] [00:27:30] [00:28:00] “Isn’t that amazing what Mother Theresa did, wow that is incredible”. And they kept topping up the feelings. And the feelings were literally lifting the immune system up. Another process of aging that people find interesting is wrinkling. Now wrinkling in the skin is a process called oxidation. Well scientists actually call it oxidative stress, but oxidation. It is the same as, you know if you leave an apple on the table, then after a couple of weeks the apple begins to wrinkle, doesn’t it? It wrinkles up. That is oxidation, it is exactly the same process as the skin. Fortunately it happens a lot faster in an apple than it does in a human. But the process is the same, it is called oxidation, or oxidative stress. And what causes it is little substances that most people know about, they are called free radicals. Once the free radicals get in the skin, which happened for a number of reasons, it could be from too much stress, it could be from not clever dietary choices or even too much exposure to sunlight, depend for some people. [00:28:30] And what that causes is gradual oxidation in the skin. Now scientists were studying this oxidation process in the skin very recently, and they found that one of the ways to dramatically slow the process is to get lots of oxytocin into the skin. Now the only way to get oxytocin into the skin is to produce it in the body. You can’t eat it or drink it. The only way to get oxytocin into your skin is to produce it in the body. Now how do you produce it in the body? Through how you feel. And the best way to generate that is to be kind, to show love affection compassion, so by that way just being kind significantly slows the aging of the skin. I mean I have been being kind for 93 years. Stu: You look very good for 93. And on that same vein I am stuffed. Oh dear. [00:29:00] David: [00:29:30] [00:30:00] It is funny how when I first wrote about this, there was a couple of people quite skeptical, “No way that being kind, I’m a kind person, no way that being kind can slow aging of the skin”. The one way to point this out to people is the opposite. Look how getting stressed ages you. The reason why stress ages us is because stress generates free radicals. And free radicals are what cause oxidation. Now oxytocin on the other hand you are not feeling stress, you are feeling warmth and feeling kind, and rather than free radicals you are generating oxytocin, the exact opposite. In fact oxytocin is an antioxidant itself. So it is the opposite of free radicals. So as stress ages you, the warmth of being kind actually slows the aging process. It is just the opposite process. It is just taking scientists a heck of a long time to start to study it. We have always studied the stress, because we are looking to diagnose the ill effect, you know what is unhealthy. It has taken us years for scientist to finally study people who are already healthy, and say what is it they are doing?

Stu

Exactly.

David

And one of the aspects of that is that being kind can actually slow the aging process.

Stu

Fascinating.

Guy

That was the four … we have got one more.

David

[00:30:30] [00:31:00] That is the 3, sorry. Number 4 is kindness improves relationships. Now that is a bit of a no brainer. I think most people know that you tend to like people who are kind to you, who make you feel good. You tend to not to want to hang out with people who talk down to you, who make you feel bad. You like people who help you. Now scientists study this in a variety of different ways, but one of the things they did is they took people, they put couples in a house for a day and they studied them interacting for a whole day. And they began to code their behaviors. Now what coding means is when they show positive behaviors towards each other they get a plus one, when they show negative behaviors towards each other they get a minus one kind of thing. Now what they found was lets say one member of the couple said to the other, “Hey, come and check this out”. Now the other person will do one of two things. They will either what is called turn towards, meaning they will turn towards their partner and say “Oh that is really interesting”, and they will come and check it out. [00:31:30] [00:32:00] [00:32:30] Now the other thing they might do is they might turn away. Where they might say “Oh aye, that is very interesting”, and then get back onto their phone, checking in their phone or watching the TV. Or they might show out and out contempt. “I’m very busy right now”, whatever it is. So they will turn towards or they will turn away. Now scientists studied them for a day, and they found that when followed them up like 6 or 10 years later, they found that the couples who had turned towards most of the time, most of them were still together, you know 6 or 10 years later. But the couples who turned away most of the time, hardly any of them were still together 6 or 10 years later. Scientist have studied lots of things actually, and what they have concluded, outside of love itself, the glue that holds relationships together, whether it is a couple’s relationship or even friendships or college room mates or colleagues at work, the glue that holds relationships of all sorts together is kindness. So that is why I concluded that kindness improves relationships. [00:33:00] [00:33:30] And number 5 is kindness is contagious. And this is what you call the ripple effect. You know you can drop a pebble in a pond and it creates like waves. And a wee lily pad goes like that because of the wave, the ripple. So that is known as the ripple effect of kindness, that it is contagious. And scientists, like they do, measure it. And what happens is, you have probably noticed this yourself. Someone does something kind or helpful for you and you feel kind of really grateful. Or I feel satisfied or uplifted, but you feel positive and warm, that is called elevation. Now scientists follow people when they feel elevated, and they find that most of the time, you will then fairly quickly in that positive feeling that you will help someone else out, you will do something kind for someone else. At the very least say something kind or be of assistance to someone over the next several hours. [00:34:00] [00:34:30] And then what happens that person, now feeling a little bit better, a little bit elevated, if you follow them, they will then go on and do something good for someone else. And when scientists follow it, what happens is kindness tends to go out to what they call 3 degrees of separation, or 3 social steps. Meaning you help someone, and they, feeling better help someone else, one, who then helps someone else, two, who then helps someone else 3. Now because of our socially interconnected societies, what happens is one person who you help doesn’t just help one person. They are actually nicer to about 5 people over the course of the day. And each of those 5 people are nice to 5 people. And each of those 5 people are nicer to 5. So what is 5 times 5 times 5? It is 125. So I estimated that the average act of kindness actually has an impact on about 125 people. Given the average level of social interconnectedness in the western world I would say.

Stu

[00:35:00] Is there a road map then to apply kindness to our every day lives? Because I am thinking I might get on, switch my phone, I might look at the news a little bit. It is all bad news, right? So I have started my day off on the wrong note. And then you know, listen to the radio, I’m stressed, I am sitting in traffic, all that kind of stuff. Are there things that I should be avoiding do you think?

David

[00:35:30] [00:36:00] There are things that we could maybe avoid, but what I tend to find to say to people is, I set people a 7 day kindness challenge, because when you actually focus on being kind for 7 days, by yourself you learn without anyone telling you how to do it, you learn for yourself what things work for you and what things don’t. And the reason I say 7 days, I used to call it 21 days but most people give up after a fortnight. Because your mind wanders. So if you focus on it for 7 days. And there are 3 rules for the 7 day kindness challenge. And this just generates the habits that you learn for yourself. And the 3 rules. Rule number one is, you have to do something different every day. Now you can do the same thing on two days, but it doesn’t count if you do it twice. So lets say you make someone a cup of tea on the Monday, you can make someone a cup of tea on the Tuesday or the Wednesday, but it doesn’t count towards your act of kindness that day because you have already done it, so it has got to be 7 different things in 7 days. [00:36:30] Number 2 is you have got to push yourself out of your comfort zone at least once. In other words, an act of kindness that kind of stretches you a little bit, that you maybe feel … lets say you have got an hour left on your parking, and how socially comfortable do you feel going up to someone and saying “Look, rather than putting money in the machine, would you like to have my ticket, there is an hour left on it?”. For some people, that stretches their boundaries little bit. So whatever your boundaries are, within the law, within reason, within common sense, at least once in the 7 days push yourself out of your comfort zone. [00:37:00] [00:37:30] And then the third one, the third condition is at least one of your acts of kindness must be completely anonymous. That takes your ego out of it. No one must know it was you or what you did. So whatever act of kindness you did, no one must ever know. So completely anonymous, it takes your ego out of the equation, it is just a secret anonymous act of kindness. So that is the rules. And I find when people do those rules for their 7 days, you learn for yourself what is working and what is not, and it creates a little bit of a habit, where it bring kindness to the forefront of your consciousness.

Guy

I was going to say, it sounds like it can be a learned behavior, because I do think that if somebody can be the opposite way, there is the saying you can wallow in your own misery or whatever, and you just … so it is a case of actually wanting to do it and starting to do it, and then in time it just becomes a good habit, as opposed to … [00:38:00]

David

That is exactly, absolutely right Guy, because some people generate habits the other way around. We get a habit of being stressed. We get a habit of doing certain things that are no good for us. So what you are doing is you are actually wiring into the brain a new habit, a new way of behaving and it just so happens that that way is very good for your health, it is also very good for everyone else, because you are impacting all of these different people every single day.

Guy

Love it, brilliant. There you go [inaudible 00:38:26]. [00:38:30]

Stu

[00:39:00] [00:39:30] I do like it. I was going to ask quickly just about other factors outside of kindness. You touched on nutrition and possibly movement, sleep, things like that. Any areas that are particularly beneficial to trigger the right hormones inside do you feel? I am personally a big fan of nutrition. I try to keep a fairly health diet. Exercise of course, exercise is great. Exercise raises levels of the right hormones in the body, in the brain, that is why exercise makes you feel good. But nutrition as well. I found without really studying anything about nutrition formally, I found that I tend to go towards things in my diet and the amount that I eat that makes me feel light, it makes me feel mentally sharp. As a writer, and I write a lot in the mornings, I need to be mentally sharp a lot of the time, and even when I am giving a talk. I found myself over time avoiding much of the classic unhealthy stuff, but not because someone told me that is unhealthy but because I recognized how I felt in my own body and I felt i don’t want to eat that stuff. [00:40:00] So I tend to eat fruits and vegetables, and [inaudible 00:39:45] and I eat a lot of berries, blueberries and stuff, especially in the morning because they make me feel good, but actually they … and watermelon, but blueberries and watermelon actually flood the arteries with nitric oxide. I didn’t realize that until I was researching this book, but that is one of the ways.

Guy

And I was going to say. Sorry my line is breaking up a little bit. And I was going to say as well it will make you … they will feed into each other I am guessing. So you are going to start making more positive choices, because you are doing the act of kindness, you are feeling better, and then so forth.

Stu

[00:40:30] If you are talking about the berries and the fruits and veges and stuff like that, so what is the stuff that you are crowding out that you are not eating as much of now?

David

[00:41:00] Things like cheese and bread. I don’t eat very much bread, I used to eat a lot of bread, I used to have like toast every day and sandwiches, but that makes me feel really tired. I mean I am not saying there is anything wrong with it, but for me it makes me feel tired. So I tend to not eat a lot of bread. When I do have bread, it is either sourdough or crusty sourdough and I dip it in tons of olive oil. One of my favorite things and I’ll only have it at the weekend is crusty bread or crusty sourdough dipped in chunks and … all of my t-shirts and shirts have olive oil stains. I can’t get it out.

Stu

Brilliant.

David

[00:41:30] But I avoid sandwiches only because … I used to have them for lunch every day but they make me feel heavy and tired so I swapped that for porridge or a light salad or watermelon at lunch time or oatcakes. And these are things that make me feel clear and sharp almost all of the day, so I just kind of gradually swapped things. Not by saying this is bad for me, but this is good for me. It makes me feel better and by extension lots of the bad stuff just gradually disappeared from my diet.

Stu

Excellent.

Guy

Yeah love it. Now you mentioned, you have got a new book coming out. Are you allowed to talk about that at all or is that like top secret?

David

[00:42:00] [00:42:30] Well i don’t have a title for it. My publisher gets a wee bit frustrated with me because rather than say “This book is called”, the title usually is the last thing that I give them. Because I get more of a … all authors have their own processes, and some authors say “This is my title”, and they deliver to the publisher an outline, and this is chapter 1, chapter 2 … no chance of me doing that. My publisher learns to trust my process. I get a feeling for the content of where a book is going and what I need to right about. And over the years they have come to trust that a little bit. My publisher is Hay House in the UK, and they also publish in Australia as well in the US. So I get a feeling for the concept of a book, and then usually a few months down the line, my publisher gets a bit nervous of “Are you sure this is going to work out?”, then I deliver them an outline of where it is now. And right near the end, when the book has really come together and I know what it is all about, I then give them the title.

Guy

Yeah fair enough. [00:43:00]

David

[00:43:30] But at the moment it is a really nice fusion of science and spirituality, really in a nutshell. I have covered some of the really hard science but in simple ways, like Einstein’s work and things like that, fused in with things like Tibetan Buddhism and other kind of more spiritual … the Dao and that kind of stuff. At the moment that is where it is, but it still has got a long way to go. That is why I can’t tell the publisher what it is called yet, because I really don’t know. But that is the kind of essence of it.

Guy

Do you have a deadline for that book? Will that be out this year or next year?

David

It comes out next September.

Guy

Wow so you have got a bit of time then.

David

Yeah my publisher is hoping I deliver it in February. I have actually got a mock first draft deadline in the middle of September. And I say a mock first draft, it is only because they need to see where the book is at because I have not done the standard and giving them a title and an outline.

Guy

Got it. [00:44:00]

David

So they want to know roughly where it is at, so I have agreed that the middle of September I will give them a reasonable first draft. Then over the next 5 or 6 months I’ll just kind of sit on the book and see where it goes, what life situations occur that allow me shape and apply the book in a number of different contexts and then I will deliver the full manuscript early 2018 for publication in September.

Guy

Brilliant, look forward to it. [00:44:30]

Stu

Busy man.

Guy

So David we have a few questions we ask everyone on the show. And the first one is, what are your non negotiables to be the best version of yourself every day?

David

[00:45:00] [00:45:30] [00:46:00] Oh wow, what are my non negotiables? A non negotiable for me obviously is be kind. You can always be kind. I learned when I was growing up, I learned from my mum when I was growing up, the kindest person in the world. And regardless of the situation, how challenging or difficult, mum was always a nice person, always, no matter how much stress, no matter how we … our early family life financially was extremely tough for my mum and my dad. My dad was in and out of work all the time, four kids, all similar ages, yet my mum always a nice person, always found a way, if somebody needed a help she’s always kind. So for me a non negotiable regardless of the context is you can still be nice, you can still be helpful, you can still listen to people, you can still give people your time, don’t have to bite someone’s head off regardless of the context, you can train yourself to take a breath and give someone a moment of your time and at least say something “Oh would you mind if I finished this off right now? And I will come back to you quite shortly”. We can learn, and it is learned, we can learn how to always be kind, at least to the best of our ability. So that is my non negotiable.

Guy

Love it, love it, and my last question is, another … what is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

David

[00:46:30] [00:47:00] Well actually I was going to say that, but here is another one. Again when I was a kid, my mum would often say because of the really challenging environment, context of life when I was a kid and obviously difficult for my mum and dad as well, my mum’s dad, my papa, who passed away a number of years ago, he would always say, “This too will pass”. Meaning life is a bit like waves in an ocean, and wave goes up and it also goes down, so when things are down, that is not permanent. It is impossible, the laws of physics say it is impossible. So everything must rise again. So sometimes just believing that, and it is obviously in a difficult situation it is hard to believe it, so that is where I put a wee bit of science on it sometimes, if things are going down with a wave, the wave has to rise again. And I think just putting your faith in the fact that everything in life is cyclic, everything goes in cycles, I listened to my mum and my papa’s advice that this will pass, this will pass, it has to. Just having your faith in that is a really useful thing. [00:47:30]

Guy

Yeah that is huge, I love it. That will stick with me that one.

Stu

I like it.

Guy

For listeners if they want to get the books you said you are under Hay House in Australia, so if they want to get the 5 Side Effects of Kindness, it will be available here in Australia for anyone to grab a copy.

David

It is yes, definitely on sale.

Guy

Yeah brilliant, and if they just want to just check out more of your work online, where is the best place to send them, David? [00:48:00]

David

My website which is drdavidhamilton.com or my Facebook page which is davidrhamiltonphd.

Guy

Beautiful, beautiful. And obviously youtube as well, I have been checking out some of the youtube interviews that have been up …

David

I’ve got some videos on youtube yeah.

Guy

Fantastic. Thank you so much for your time and coming on the short today David, that was brilliant, and just loved the message you are putting out there and hopefully we can help spread the word as well over here as well in Australia.

David

Thank you very much it has been a real pleasure chatting with you guys today. [00:48:30]

Stu

Thank you for coming on, I genuinely enjoyed that, and I feel better in myself after talking to you, so you are clearly doing something right, thanks again.

David

Thank you very much, I really enjoyed this.

Guy

Thanks chaps.

David

Bye bye.

 

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