by Linda-Ann Stewart
How do you feel when someone is kind to you? For instance, when a friend sends you a card, gives you a compliment or your spouse does the dishes for you. Don’t you feel uplifted? And how do you feel when you do something nice for someone else? Maybe you do an errand for a friend, call to see how they’re doing, or help a neighbor carry in her groceries. Don’t you feel a sense of satisfaction? And what if you see someone be generous to a stranger? Doesn’t that give you a warm glow and motivate you to do something considerate, too?
When you see, do, or are the recipient of kindness, it releases hormones that cause you to feel good, inspired and happy. It stimulates the reward centers of the brain. Within a few minutes the hormones have stopped flowing, but by remembering the action, you can recreate the joy. Kindness is like a pebble thrown into a pond, with the ripples extending outward and touching places unseen.
The Benefits of Kindness
The paradox of kindness and compassion is the benefits it brings to the one who acts, as well as the recipient. Not only do you impact the person you’re giving to, you’re receiving good feelings in return. Remember what your mother used to say, “It’s better to give than receive”? In this case, you receive far more than you give.
Showing kindness and compassion to others bestows the following on you:
- You’re more attractive to others, personally and professionally.
- People like and trust you more.
- You’re more creative.
- Your self-esteem and self-worth increases.
- Your optimism and positive thinking grows.
- You feel calmer and happier.
- Your stress, pain, anxiety, depression and blood pressure reduces.
Kindness Can Be Challenging
Sometimes being kind can be challenging. There are people who irritate you and you may want to lash out at them. But you don’t know what has happened in their life that has caused them to be annoying. These are times when being altruistic and compassionate can have the best results. You may just change someone’s life, in addition to your own.
For instance, consider being kind in the following conditions:
- Smile and compliment the grouchy clerk. They might have had a bad day full of grumpy customers and it’s rubbed off on them.
- Let the aggressive driver into the lane in front of you. They may be running late to an important appointment that could be vital to their well being.
- Don’t complain when the elderly gentleman cuts ahead of you in line at the grocery store. He may have mild dementia and not have even noticed you were there.
In difficult situations, consider what the other person might be dealing with that’s caused them to be rude. You’re not kind just for them. You do it for you, because it’s better for your health, mentally, physically and emotionally.
Focus on Kindness
The more you focus on being kind, the more you want to be kind. And the kinder you are, the more you’ll grow that area of your brain. Pure altruism brings you all the rewards mentioned and more. As you’re being kind to others, don’t forget to be kind and compassionate towards yourself. You deserve to be treated well, too, by yourself and others.
In the Christmas season, we focus on peace and goodwill towards others. Why can’t we have this spirit all year long? Think of the life we’d all have. It begins with each one of us being kind, on a daily basis. It’s a very simple mindset that takes on a joyful life of its own.
Whenever I have a choice of how to respond to a situation, I choose kindness. Kindness allows the spirit of the Universe to flow through me, blessing my life and the life I impact. I cultivate a generous spirit and compassionate attitude towards myself and others. I generate peace and goodwill towards all people, every day of the year.
Watch the accompanying video, Guided Meditation for Kindness.