Kindness is good for you
In a world full of crime and catastrophe…and Brexit, there often just isn’t the opportunity to talk about the good things in life, which also happen to be very important. Did you know that Australia has legalised same-sex marriage and that woman in Saudi Arabia can now drive? Isn’t that worth talking about!
World Kindness Day has been an initiative for over 20 years. It happens on the 13th of November each year and is acknowledged in many countries worldwide. In fact, Australia has even added it onto the National School Calendar. Moreover, it provides a day to highlight the good within each other and our communities, where kindness is in the news for once rather than crime.
Kindness is a key player in the field of positive psychology and for good reason. Undoubtedly, it holds an extraordinary power, to change a whole mood.
To harness kindness into something that we can utilise within our everyday lives, it is important to break it down into its fundamental components.
1. Be Kind to Yourself
Kindness can be considered a healthy form of self-acceptance (Neely et al, 2009). It can be translated as self-love or compassion towards oneself. It must be reiterated that it is not narcissistic to love yourself but an important factor within development and the journey to happiness. It is important that a person can find this self-acceptance within themselves before they can practice kindness outwardly, in a community sense.
There are many elements that can be addressed when considering self-love. However, starting with the basics is a good place to begin. Practice self-care; physical actions can lead to change in thinking patterns. Therefore, if you look after your body, by considering nutrition, exercise, getting enough sleep, you are telling your body that it deserves to feel well, healthy and happy.
Make time for things you enjoy. Create a BALANCE. That means not depriving yourself of luxuries, indulging here and there is okay but it also means setting boundaries and considering the repercussions of your actions. Resisting that extra drink so you can make your 9am meeting is also being kind to yourself.
Write down things that make you happy, use gratitude journals, encourage yourself to have a mindful existence.
2. Be Kind to Others.
Once you have essentially mastered self-kindness, it is time to act kindly towards others. This can be difficult in a society that is so individualistic, where ego-centrism is the norm and there is an unspoken idea within high powered business that kindness is a sign of weakness. It is quite the opposite and this needs to change.
Kindness can create a better world. If this is not incentive enough, there are copious psychological studies which highlight the benefits of kindness on an individual’s well-being. We derive satisfaction from performing kind acts due to the oxytocin – feel-good chemical - release in the brain, which in turn helps you feel less stressed. Studies found that when people performed small acts of kindness, like opening a door for a stranger, decreased levels of stress were reported throughout the day.
There isn’t such a thing as being too busy to have manners. Try and remember that whatever is happening in your own life shouldn’t be taken out on others. Smile at strangers, say ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ when it’s due. All these things make others feel good.
Write a simple note to the people in your life. Your friends, your family or your partner. Tell them you love them, wish them a lovely day, a happy holiday. It’s the simplest of acts, which just requires a pen and paper, although you can personalise and decorate your note to make it extra special.
Take Away Message:
We all know how it feels to be on the receiving end of kindness, which often causes a warm feeling inside as we get the sense that someone cares about us as they have gone out of their way to make us happy or life a little easier. Capture this feeling and harness it into your own life.
Our mission on this day and every day is to make kindness the norm, to ourselves and others. As both these forms have positive mental and physiological impacts on well-being. In an ideal world no-one would need reminding to exhibit something as fundamental as kindness but seeing as our minds are normally preoccupied with a million other things it’s okay to need a reminder every now and then.
Just remember that the task at hand is not so overwhelming, kindness does not need to be in the form of massive gestures consisting of high monetary value, it can be free. Simple acts. Big impact.
When’s the last time you did something kind?
If you’re not sure of the answer, that’s okay but it’s time to act!