2020 has presented us with many challenges that test our patience and break our hearts. Once again, we as a society are faced with the disgusting practices of racism and social injustice. Hatred is a vile emotion that has been the source of suffering for citizens for decades. While we are not debating solutions here today, we can all agree change is necessary. Regardless of our own beliefs, there is a practice that makes sense for everyone in every situation, being kind. Choosing kindness over hatred is always a winning choice, plus it benefits the giver and the receiver.
Kindness is a teachable skill and with practice, it can become an easy strategy to navigate life. Kind acts can become a habit with time. The idea that kindness is contagious makes sense when examined socially and scientifically. There is a plethora of research that has been done that examines the benefits of being kind. One simple reason to choose kindness is that it makes us feel good to be kind. Research shows that acts of kindness send messages to the brain that trigger our feel-good endorphins, creating a helper’s high.
Helper’s high is similar to an exercise high. This release of endorphins helps to lower our stress hormones.
By choosing kindness we can help boost our mood, lengthen our life, and improve our well being. Positive well being is measured by having more positive emotions than negative and feeling satisfied in most areas of our life. Kindness is a powerful tool that we can choose every day to show others we care and to increase our well being!
Kindness is often defined as being friendly, generous, and compassionate. As well as behaving in a way that shows others you care about them. There are opportunities to choose kindness that surround us all through the day; we just need to pay attention. Typically we are moving mindlessly through our day. By incorporating some mindfulness (attention) to what is happening around us, we can begin to open our eyes to ways we can choose to be kind.
Simple acts of kindness may range from donating to someone in need to helping someone pick up the blueberries they dropped at the grocery. When we pay attention to our surroundings, we can begin to see opportunities to be helpful. Learning to be kind begins with being kind to ourselves when we fail or make mistakes. We can find self-awareness as we work to create a more mindful way of functioning.
There are always opportunities to be kind and be the best version of us. Challenge yourself to do a random act of kindness and notice what happens. Remember we can always choose to be kind. Kindness breaks down barriers and builds bridges. Choosing to be kind does not mean we have to love everyone we meet; we just need to be kind and respectful to all humans.
Making a simple choice to be kind throughout the day will help create positive energy and positive connections with others. As we all embrace kindness and respect in our daily interactions, we can begin to create the much-needed circle of love. Kindness is contagious; pass it on!
Ann Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor