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Think the World Is Mean? $20M Given to Find 'Antidote'

Thanks to philanthropic gift, UCLA sets up institute dedicated to promoting kindness
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2019 6:28 AM CDT
Keep that kindness flowing.   (Getty Images/fizkes)

(Newser) – Life can be rough, but UCLA hopes to offer a remedy. Live Science reports that, thanks to a $20 million gift from the Bedari Foundation, the university has set up the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute. The institute will "take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding kindness—through evolutionary, biological, psychological, economic, cultural, and sociological perspectives," per a release. "In the midst of current world politics, violence, and strife, the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute seeks to be an antidote," notes a UCLA social sciences dean. The Los Angeles Times reports there are three themes to the new institute's work on kindness, which it IDs as being "an act that enhances the welfare of others as an end in itself": the roots of it, how to spread it around, and how it can be wielded to help boost both physical and mental health.

That boost isn't just for those on the receiving end of a kind act: UCLA researchers say individuals who've engaged in kindness and mindfulness can alleviate their depression, see enhanced sleep, and—due to the kind behavior actually altering the brain and certain genes—better fight off infections and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. The philanthropic organization was established by Matthew C. Harris, a UCLA alum, and his wife, Jennifer; the name of the foundation arose from the names of their three kids, Beckett, Dakota, and Riley. UCLA's new push for kindness will be achieved via lectures, online programs, and even a meditation app designed to cultivate kindness. "[Kindness] is, in terms of the perpetuation of our species and the ability to live with each other and nature, critically important," Harris tells the Times. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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