Kindness (noun): the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate; a kind act.
— English Oxford Living Dictionaries
While we may not have control over another person, we do have control over ourselves. What does it mean to be our best selves? Isn’t being kind in the mix of choices we have each and every day? We can’t make anyone else be kind, but that doesn’t have to stop us from aspiring to be kind, no matter what.
The purest form of kindness may have no audience and offer no credit. Kindness to accumulate thanks is self-serving at best. Some may even say it’s an effort to control or make the recipient feel indebted. But when we are kind even if — maybe especially if — there’s no such payback, the rewards may be all the sweeter.
We Become Kinder with Practice, Practice, Practice
So, practice. Aesop, the ancient Greek storyteller, once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” If intentional acts of kindness don’t come easily to you, try this challenge: do one small, kind thing each day for someone. Then pay attention to the impact on you. Does it become easier the more you do it? Do you start to notice and act on more opportunities to be kind in your world? Do you start to feel lighter? Kinder?
Kindness Begets Kindness
Just as a bully of a boss can foster a culture of bullying and fear down the hierarchical line, so can kindness from one help to foster kindness in others. We often take our cues from leaders, coworkers, friends, family members and others we live with many hours a day. Why not be the kind of Positive Energizer from whom others take their cues? The one who makes people feel great. Positive Energizers keep their word, they keep their cool, they’re honest, authentic, real, compassionate, kind, generous, forgiving, decisive, and loving. When you do a kind, compassionate, thoughtful and helpful deed for another person, your body fills with dopamine and oxytocin, the love hormone. You feel great. The other person that is receiving the kind, helpful thing, their blood fills with the same hormone, and here is the amazing part, a third party just witnessing it, their blood fills with oxytocin and dopamine too.
Tangible Acts of Kindness
Intentional acts of kindness are helpful in all areas of your life, home, friends, in the workplace. A simple act of kindness can start conversations between people of very different beliefs. From such conversations comes understanding, which leads to positive connections and healthier relationships. We may not all agree with one another, but after hearing and considering alternative points of view we can respectfully agree to disagree.
Research shows that “doing good” has other benefits for both the giver and the receiver. Studies have found that those who volunteer and commit acts of kindness reap health benefits that may help them live longer, happier and more productive lives.
Consider the following:
• In a study on kindness, Christine Carter, a UC Berkeley researcher with the Greater Good Science Center, found that about half the participants reported feeling stronger and more energetic after helping others. Many also reported being calmer and less depressed with increased self-worth. In the workplace, feeling stronger and more energetic, as well as having confidence, can often lead to greater productivity.
• According to research from Emory University, being kind to another person increases pleasure sensations in the brain of the giver, a phenomenon often called the “helper’s high.”
• A University of British Columbia study reported that after one month of performing at least six acts of kindness each week, a group of highly anxious individuals experienced more frequent positive moods and less social avoidance.
Join our team at Be the Sun, Not the Salt, along with the organization Random Acts of Kindness Foundation in an effort to Make Kindness the Norm! This requires small intentional efforts that yield amazing results.
Click here for a few ideas on simple ways to help Make Kindness the Norm from our friends at Random Acts of Kindness.