From the time we are small we are taught to be nice. Our parents and other teachers in our lives encourage us to make good choices and to be kind in our interactions with other people. This is for a good reason. Kindness not only benefits the recipients of our actions, but it also has a positive effect on us and anyone who witnesses the act of kindness.
“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
There are scientific benefits to being kind. According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation:
Kindness is Teachable
Helen Weng published a study which found that kindness can be taught. “It’s kind of like weight training… we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”
The more we practice being kind the more kind we will become.
Kindness is Contagious
The positive effects of kindness are experienced by everyone who witnesses the kind act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” One act of kindness can have a ripple effect and improve the lives of dozens of people.
- Blood Pressure
We Can Share Color Through Individual Acts of Kindness
Have you ever felt lonely? Do you notice those who are lonely? Loneliness seems to color the world in drab shades of gray.
Mary N. Cook suggests that we can change just one person’s world by being benevolent and using individual acts of kindness to bring color into a gray world that may be made up of long lonely gray days.
Warning! Being kind may require you to:
- Reach beyond your usual friends
- Overcome shyness
- Courageously choose to serve someone who doesn’t treat you well
- Give service to young and old
- Be cheerful, helpful, and considerate of others
- Concern yourself with the needs of others
- Seek to be a peacemaker
“Remember this: kindness begins with me” – Mary N. Cook
Virtue of Kindness
“Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes”. – Joseph B. Wirthlin
Kind words have the power to lift our spirits the moment they are given, but they can also linger with us over years. Joseph B. Wirthlin explained, “the things you say, the tone of your voice, the anger or calm of your words – these things are noticed… by others. Nothing exposes our true selves more than how we treat one another.”
What if people are rude?
What if people are obnoxious?
What if they offend me?
What if people are mean?
The answer is the same. Act in love. Be kind.
Who knows what far-reaching impact we can have if we choose to only act in kindness?
Small Acts of Kindness
I was at the grocery store a few years ago, and there was an older gentleman wandering the aisles. He looked like he was trying to find something without success. I asked if I could help him find anything. He asked if I could find him a can of three-bean salad.
So, I looked around a few aisles for him and found the three-bean salad. He was thrilled. With a smile, he told me that his wife used to do it for him, and he was missing her.
In that small act of helping him locate a can in the grocery store, I brought a moment of joy to a man who was missing his dear wife.
Acts of kindness don’t have to be large to be meaningful. Even small gestures of love can spark happiness and joy.
Choose to Be Kind
The only thing that is truly ours is our gift of agency, our power to choose. We choose how we act, and we can choose whether or not to be kind.
The most amazing people in my life are those who choose kindness.
I love how being kind is that it is one of the few things that is truly mutually beneficial. When I do something kind, I feel good, and my actions helped another to feel good. Whether it is for friends, strangers, or for those in our homes, I challenge you to make an extra effort to act in kindness. Sometimes this requires a deep breath and placing the needs of someone else over your own, but it’s worth it.
In a world where you can choose to be anything, choose to be kind.
A Better World. (2013). YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwelE8yyY0U
Cook, M. N. (2011). lds.org. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/04/remember-this-kindness-begins-with-me?lang=eng
Ladwig, J. (2013). The University of Wisconsin-Madison News. Retrieved from http://news.wisc.edu/brain-can-be-trained-in-compassion-study-shows/
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness
Wirthlin, J. B. (2005). lds.org. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/04/the-virtue-of-kindness?lang=eng