Being kind is something that is taught to everyone at every stage of their life. Since childhood, people are encouraged to act kindly to their family members, friends, and even strangers. It is a virtue that is valued in society, and a beneficial one too.
Research has shown that people who are kinder are also healthier and happier.
As social beings, human beings rely on one another. The most recent example of kindness in our society is when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. People all around the world are actively doing an act of kindness in their community by providing food to those in need, volunteering, making a donation, and even as small as doing something that can bring a smile to someone else’s face.
Benefits of practicing kindness
Kindness is defined as “benevolent and helpful action intentionally directed toward another person.” Often times people who do acts of kindness are motivated by the desire to help others and with no intention to gain rewards or avoid punishments.
While it is clear that an act of kindness will help and benefit other people, the persons who practice the act of kindness also feels many of its benefit for themselves such as:
Improving psychological flourishing
When people talk about pursuing happiness, oftentimes the first thing that comes to mind is to focus on yourself and fulfill all of your needs.
However, research showed that people who do acts of kindness toward others, such as bringing food to elderly relatives, enjoy greater psychological flourishing compared with those who focused on self-kindness like treating themselves to their favorite dessert.
In the same study, researchers mentioned that psychological flourishing entails the experience of positive emotional well-being, positive psychological functioning, and positive social functioning, which means it is beneficial not only for the individual but also for society. People who do acts of kindness to others feel greater positive emotions such as joy, love, and contentment which in turn improves overall well-being and social relationships.
Creating a sense of belonging
Since the act of kindness involves other people, it is thought that helping others is one of the ways for people to create, maintain, and strengthen their connection with others.
Being kind to other people through volunteering, listening emphatically to others, reaching out to loved ones, helping a neighbor, or other activities can help you to feel a sense of belonging and connect with your communities and others surrounding you.
People who volunteer feel a higher sense of interpersonal closeness with other people. They feel cared about by others and feel belongingness in that group or community.
Furthermore, this benefit also applies in the school setting. A study in 2021 found that students’ sense of belongingness is associated with their perception of kindness at school. The student who feels a higher sense of belonging are more likely to perceive the school as a kind and caring place, where the school members cared for and helped each other.
An act of kindness regardless of whether they are big or small can boost self-esteem. This is because the act of kindness makes people realize that they are valuable and they are capable to help others and contribute to other people’s happiness. Being kind can make someone feel better about themselves and can lift their mood.
Helping others can also build a person’s sense of self-competency since one act of kindness can make a difference in someone’s day and it emphasizes that action matters.
Furthermore, research shows that doing an act of kindness toward strangers has a greater positive impact on self-esteem than on family or friends. Since helping strangers is more challenging and interacting with them might increase a person’s discomfort, therefore coping with greater challenges in helping strangers can foster self-esteem more effectively than helping friends and family.
How to practice small acts of kindness
Doing an act of kindness to others does not have to be a grand gesture or something that requires a lot of your energy. You can start small and with something that you can do now and to the people around you. There are many things that you can do for a small act of kindness, here are a few examples that might inspire you.
Always practice good manners
One of the simplest things that you can do is to always remember to say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ in every interaction. While this might sound very simple, this practice can have a profound impact on interactions.
When you are conscious of your interactions with others, it can help you to notice others and be more aware of their presence. You are more likely to do an act of kindness as simple as a smile to them or compliment them.
For example, you can thank the barista who prepares your coffee, congratulate your colleagues on their achievements, or thank your friend for spending time with you. These small act of kindness might make their day.
Be sincere and thoughtful
You don’t need special moments to remind the people in your life that they matter to you. Every once in a while, you can give your family or friends something that they will enjoy. The presents don’t have to be a big deal. Think of their hobbies, interest, or something they might need and surprise them with that. Even simply spending time with them or having a cup of coffee together can show your thoughtfulness.
Offer help in any way
When you notice your surroundings, there is always something that you can do to make someone else’s life easier. Try to offer help without being asked.
When you see someone looking lost, ask them if they need directions. If your neighbors are struggling with their bags of groceries, offer to help carry them into their house. Hold the door open for someone behind you. Give your seat to the elderly in public transportation.
There is always something that you can do or give to other people no matter how small it is. Even when you thought your actions are small, they might mean a lot more to other people.
There are so many ways you can do to show acts of kindness. While being kind is oftentimes directed towards other people, you can also feel its many benefits by doing it. You can always try to be kinder towards yourself and towards others.
If you would like to enhance the practice of kindness, check out the Happiness Science Labs. The lab produces courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other learning materials based on the research of the Institute of Life Management Science. Visit the Happiness Science Labs today.
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