When the world seems full of people grabbing and pushing and shoving to get the latest deals in the shops, to make sure that they are heard, kindness seems like the wimp’s way out. Is it an old fashioned outdated habit that means you’ll be stuck holding the door open for others to rush through to a wonderful life? Recent behavioural science research proves what successful businesses have known for years: Kindness and serving others well is the secret of success and happiness in the long term. Kindness helps you as well as others.
Definition of kindness
Kindness is not spoiling your children by letting them do what they want, nor is it always biting one’s tongue when someone has made a mistake. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”. Sometimes caring means you have to do things that aren’t popular. It may mean correcting or holding someone back. It’s how you do it and why you do it that determines whether it is a kind act or not.
People will forget what you do, people will forget what you say but they will always remember how you made them feel. Maya Angelou.
So kindness is really about making people feel better. Recently there has been research into why people are kind. Evidence shows that it is not only habit or duty or social conscience, but also because it makes the kind person feel better.
Kindness helps – scientific evidence
Recent studies in the UK and in the USA have shown that not only do random acts of kindness make people happier in the short-term, they also have a positive impact on the long-term happiness. Peter Field in the Huffington Post gives 5 Research-Based Reasons to be Kind:
- It’s what makes us human–even toddlers try and help others
- Positive effects on your brain, boosting endorphins
- Helps you have a longer healthier life
- Seeing someone help another person sets off a ripple effect, so kindness spreads.
- Kindness helps make you happy–and people who observe a kind act also feel happier.
Kindness helps – give it a try
The week of Valentine’s Day is Random Acts of Kindness week–why not give it a try for a day–or if you are feeling adventurous, a week? If you would like some ideas on how to practice random acts of kindness, Buzzfeed has 101 Ideas. There is even a website devoted to Random Acts of Kindness.
You don’t have to wait until the Random Act of Kindness week comes round. Just do something kind and change your life and world for the better. It works amazingly well.
The reverse also holds true, if we aren’t kind to people, we start excusing ourselves by blaming them. This makes us feel bad and gives us even more reason to be unkind, making us even more unhappy. So try doing something nice for someone you don’t like–but make sure it is something that will make them feel better.
If you’re struggling with this, get in touch. It’s often that you need help practising some kindness to yourself before you can feel kindly to others.