“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
The above quote by Jennifer Dukes Lee, is one of my favorite quotes. Too often we get caught up by defining our worth by how much we earn or what the title of our job is. How often do we define our worth by how kind we are?
The Oxford Dictionary defines kindness as: The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. I would add something to this definition; kindness is power. In fact, the effects of kindness are so powerful that they not only impact multiple people, but they can linger with a person for a long time, brightening their outlook whenever they experience moments of depression or disillusion.
To illustrate this, just take a moment right now, close your eyes and bring to mind a moment when somebody was kind to you. Spend a few minutes replaying this event and then notice how you feel after. Now think of a time when you were kind to someone else. It may have been something small that you did for somebody or something big. How do you feel now? Chances are pretty good. Kindness has the ability to induce positive emotion no matter whether we are the receiver or the giver of the kind act.
The Science of Kindness
The science is in support of the power of kindness. Kindness has been linked amongst others things to improved physical health and happiness and decreased levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Moreover, research has found that kindness is contagious. A study conducted by James Fowler of the University of California and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University found that in a public goods game where giving money came at a personal cost, people that received money from others were more likely to give money away in future games. In fact, they found that one act of kindness could spread by three degrees of separation. So just like a virus, kindness can spread fast, and therefore, if you think that a small act of kindness has no impact, think again.
A Kindness Pandemic
Our world desperately needs more kindness. We are struggling at the moment trying to stop the spread of a contagious virus. This is impacting a lot of us negatively as our days may be filled with worry, isolation and uncertainty. We never know what is going on behind closed doors. People who seem like they are managing just fine could be struggling with feelings of helplessness or worthlessness. An act of kindness could literally save someone’s life. We, therefore, need a different type of pandemic- a pandemic of kindness. And you can start spreading this today. I have created an easy three-step kindness plan that you can begin following right away.
Three-Step Kindness Plan:
1. Kindness to Others
Every day strive to perform one small act of kindness for someone else. This could be something that occurs spontaneously in the moment, but it may help to set a goal at the start of day with the intention of what you will do and who you will do it for. For ideas of acts of kindness, visit this link: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas. Struggling to find ways to be kind in quarantine? This link offers some great ideas: https://acts.kindness.org/initiatives
2. Kindness to Yourself
Being kind to others does not make much sense if you are not kind to yourself. Every day perform one small act of kindness for yourself. Perhaps being kind to yourself involves allowing yourself to sleep in for an extra half an hour; making a nourishing smoothie for yourself or painting your nails- keep in mind that an act of kindness does not have to be big.
3. Recall Kindness
We as humans have a negativity bias, which means that we easily remember the negative and forget the positive. To spread kindness, it is important that we remember it. Creating a kindness journal can help with this. At the end of the day, note down in this journal what act of kindness you did for yourself and for someone else. Also note down if you were a receiver of an act of kindness or whether you noticed another person performing an act of kindness for somebody else.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts and tips for spreading a kindness pandemic.