In this fast-paced world, kindness and compassion take a back seat to selfies, self-interest, and expendable human interactions. It affects the user and the experience — leaving a lasting impression on both.
Kindness is fundamental to human existence. We are thrust into the world as newborns and enriched with the kindness of our parents’ nurturing for the ensuing years.
Humans are the only mammals with a prolonged gestation period. Other creatures rely on support for a brief time before becoming self-reliant. We are powerless at birth and depend on our caregivers to provide for our needs.
Therefore, kindness is sewn into the framework of our DNA. We are literally wired for kindness.
The benefits of kindness
Kindness has many benefits including increased happiness and a healthy heart. It slows down the aging process and improves relationships and connections, which indirectly boosts your health. Kindness broadens your life’s frame of reference and is a symbol of respect to value for the receiver.
It influences the giver more than the receiver and has correlations with enhanced mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
1. Releases feel-good hormones.
The University of Berkley found in a study that 50% of people felt more energetic and stronger after helping others. Being kind might give you more energy to do better, for yourself and others.
When you do kind acts for other people, so-called happiness hormones are released, boosting your serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being and satisfaction. Endorphin levels also rise, leading to a phenomenon known as a helper’s high.
2. Reduces pain.
That endorphin release that gives you a “helper’s high,” also helps reduce pain. Kindness releases dopamine, serotonin, and endogenous opioids. There isn’t a more natural painkiller than kindness.
3. Can reduce anxiety.
Another physical benefit of kindness is that it can help to lower anxiety. Social anxiety is associated with low positive affect (PA), which relates to an individual’s experience of positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness. A four-week study on happiness from the University of British Columbia found that participants who engaged in kind acts displayed major increases in their PA levels that were maintained during the study duration.
In fact, it has been shown that being kind increases happiness. There are so many happy hormones that are released when you participate in kindness like serotonin and oxytocin.
4. May help alleviate certain illnesses.
Inflammation in the body is linked to numerous health problems including chronic pain, diabetes, obesity, and migraines. For older generations at least, volunteering as an act of kindness may be of benefit to reducing inflammation.
Additionally, oxytocin, also released with acts of kindness, reduces inflammation, and it can directly affect the chemical balance of your heart.
5. Can reduce your stress levels.
Helping others takes you out of your mind and can potentially help to build relationships with other people. Anything that helps you to build bonds with other people is known as ‘affiliative behavior’.
Those who regularly participate in acts of kindness have been shown to have 23% less cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone and increased levels can be so detrimental to your hormonal health and longevity.
6. Increases lifespan.
Volunteering is a great example of a form of kindness and all those health benefits of kindness may add up over the long run. People who volunteer are more likely to live longer.
How to be more kind:
1. Convey your support to others.
Let’s say we all supported and believed in the ability of our friends and family to do amazing things. Put another way, think about how your support could drive even one person to achieve things greater than themselves. Imagine how much the world could benefit.
2. Consider kindness before you speak.
When we may have something in our minds to say about someone and it isn’t kind, remember to choose kindness before speaking. It is not a sign of weakness to choose kindness. It is a sign of heart.
3. Spread kindness that you have received.
When we receive kindness, we may feel special about ourselves. If you can, in some way or another, continue to spread the kindness that you have received.
4. Be mindful of how you treat others.
Considering our closest relationships, as well as our acquaintances and others who we don’t see regularly, it is important to be mindful of how we treat others because of the impact they can have. Truly being considerate can go a long way with many friendships and relationships.
5. Don’t discriminate against who to be kind to.
As we all know, each of us is facing a challenge, whether seen or unseen. Don’t discriminate who to be kind to, despite differences.
6. Practice good intentions.
Try to carry good intentions with displays of kindness. Kindness and good intention usually come hand in hand, but in the few cases where they could not be aligned, try to practice good intentions, like not expecting anything in return for your gesture or compliment.
7. Reach out when it is less likely others will.
If you feel like an act of kindness might be going against the grain, try to be the first to show niceness. It will likely be as rewarding in return.
Don’t let anyone abuse your kindness
Life is too short to allow people to treat you less than how you should actually be treated. People are quick to identify your weaknesses and use these weaknesses to take advantage of you.
In most cases, people realize that you are kind and start to abuse your kindness. They know that no matter how badly they treat you, you will always forgive them because you are naturally a kind person.
It is very important to know that sometimes people genuinely make mistakes and really ask for forgiveness probably because they have learned from their mistakes and now, they know better, these people do deserve a second chance to prove themselves and need to be separated from the kindness abusers.
A kindness abuser will make a mistake and apologizes to you too, but the difference is the kindness abusers only says the things to manipulate and trick you into believing that they are genuinely apologizing to you.
It is very hard to identify a kindness abuser at first because they seem and sound authentic at first, but time will always reveal their true colors.
As time goes by these abusers tend to be repetitive, they keep doing the same thing over and over again. If you pay attention, you will start to realize a pattern with their mistakes and apologies.
The best way to deal with this is not to eliminate or get rid of your kindness completely because first of all, it is in our nature to be kind and we cannot change nature, but we can enhance one ability that we have or that we can build on.
The ability that we need to enhance is the ability to pay attention. Paying attention is the most important way to ensure that people don’t use you. Nobody is perfect and nothing we ever do is perfect. So, no matter how hard they try to fool you, they will always leave some tiny detail that shows that they just using you.
And once you identify a kindness abuser do yourself a favor and remove them from your life because they will always find a way to manipulate you. These abusers don’t love or care about you, but they love what you can do for them.
So, protect your inner peace by staying away from these people.
To conclude, if you are in a position to be kind – do it! Those who are blessed must do good. It doesn’t have to be giving money but can be service, a smile, or even grace.
And don’t forget to be kind to yourself during this time when the world is at unease. Also, be aware of those who may be planning to take advantage of your important gift.