Everyone feels good when someone is nice. This is particularly true for more vulnerable people, like those facing unbearable stress or mental health issues, such as burnout or depression, or who may be living with an addiction or other kind of struggle.
Acts of kindness can boost a person’s overall well-being, whether they are struggling or not. Kindness also helps people overcome self-esteem and self-confidence issues, as well as loneliness. It can even cultivate and foster healthier relationships.
Research shows that those people who are kind and compassionate are more satisfied with their lives, have better physical and emotional health, and have healthier, stronger relationships with friends and loved ones. An added bonus: being kind can help make you feel good, too.
And kindness isn’t just a nice-to-have — science shows being kind, especially during these uncertain times, has a positive effect on a person’s well-being. A Journal of Social Psychology study states that “committing acts of kindness towards our close connections, our acquaintances, toward ourselves — and even observing acts of kindness — have equally positive effects on our happiness.”
Moreover, kindness and compassion can enhance our immune system and lower our stress and anxiety levels, which is critical during these unprecedented times.
How Does a Lack of Kindness Affect Society?
One of the greatest challenges today is that we live in a culture where some people think it’s actually okay to judge others – and make negative statements about them – despite the fact that they genuinely have no idea what is going on in someone else’s personal life.
Unfortunately, many people are too quick to jump to conclusions about the colleague who never shows up to work on time. We judge the person behind the coffee shop counter who doesn’t seem prepared and seems lost when asking a question. But we never stop to think about whether they are doing okay, or if something is happening beneath the surface that isn’t obvious on the outside.
The truth is that most people don’t act out towards others in odd or hurtful ways because they’re doing well. Rather, they often act out because they are likely hurting inside, and their pain is getting the best of them. Or, it could be because they are on the losing end of an internal struggle.
The bottom line is that people who are hurting don’t need to be hurt even more. With this in mind, take time to take a few deep breaths. Also, try to recognize that you are potentially dealing with an incredibly “hurt” individual. The best way to proceed is to strive to send them love, forgive them for their transgressions, and then step back. Keep in mind: the most wounded are often the ones that need the most love and compassion.
Because there are so many people going through different issues in life that most of us have no clue about, we need to learn to be kind to everyone.
It’s important to realize that words do hurt and can, in fact, cause another individual further emotional harm. We must learn to care not just for ourselves, but also for the people around us and with whom we interact with each day.
You will be surprised just how far a simple, “How are you doing?” can go. Even just smiling when you walk past another person can go a long way and impact their day more positively.
Use Kindness and Compassion in Everyday Life
There are many ways to be kind to someone who needs help. For example, being more sensitive and sympathetic, and creating a positive outlook and instilling hope can significantly impact another person. Also, recognizing and validating positive changes, and helping someone else solve problems can help.
What may seem like small acts of kindness can have massive power for both the kindness “giver” and the recipient, whether it’s a neighbor, someone in your family, or even a total stranger.
Countless studies show that compassion, kindness, and giving are associated with a wide range of physical and mental health benefits, from improved happiness and relationships to a stronger immune system, reduced stress and depression, and the opportunity for longer life.
According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, you don’t have to be the one doing or receiving an act of kindness to experience a positive impact. Just by witnessing a kind act, you can get all of the proven health benefits.
Research also reveals that the happiness people often get from giving to other individuals creates an additional positivity in the form of a domino effect – in other words, it’s contagious. The more you give, the more positive you feel, so, in turn, it feels greater overall happiness and kindness.
In other words, whether you see, do, or receive kindness, you’re more apt to pay it forward. And the more understanding, forgiving, and gentle we are with ourselves, the more likely it is that these positive vibrations will overflow into our interactions with family, friends, and even total strangers.
A Few Small Ways to Get Started
Here are some acts of kindness that go a long way:
- Always make an effort to say please and thank you
- Leave a nice note for someone, whether it’s a teacher, colleague, family member or neighbor
- Smile at others when you pass them on the street
- Hold the door or elevator for someone else
- Provide feedback about an employee that helped you in a store or restaurant
- Step aside and offer your seat on the train or bus
- Pick up someone’s tab at the drive-thru or in a restaurant, or deliver food to a local hospital, fire or police station
- Volunteer in your community – it gives you a chance to connect with others, and donate your time and energy to help others in need
At the end of the day, there’s no limit to how much kindness you can put forth into your surrounding community and the world at large.
Challenge yourself to do something kind each day – especially during these stressful and uncertain times, and I promise that you and many others will experience the powerful perks of both improved physical health and well-being. To learn more, sign up for our free weekly group remote sessions at offer.burnbrighttoday.com.