Have you ever given much thought to the concept of kindness? What it is, how it works, why it’s important?
The wonderful thing about being kind, is indeed, just how easy it is. A word, a smile, one small act that demonstrates caring and consideration; all of these show a generosity of spirit.
But what, exactly, is kindness?
And why is kindness so important?
What is Kindness?
Kindness is a highly valued personal trait. It is considered to be a virtue in most religions and cultures throughout the world and has been that way throughout history.
Kindness has even been awarded its own holiday. February 17th has been designated as National Random Acts of Kindness Day. It is celebrated by individuals, groups, and organizations nationwide to encourage acts of kindness.
But, what exactly constitutes kindness?
Kindness is a quality of being friendly, generous and considerate, with no expectation of reward, credit, or return of similar.
Quite simply, it’s doing something nice without expecting to get anything in return. In other words, it’s simply doing something nice because doing something nice is a good and right thing to do.
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Kindness is also known by several other terms. It may be known as good-heartedness, benevolence, altruism, courtesy, goodwill, graciousness, good intention, or solicitousness.
There are many, many ways of demonstrating this positive behavior, and they can be more or less broken down into three main categories:
- kindness to others,
- kindness to self, and
- kindness to the world.
For some specific ideas related to all three types of kindness, read 50 Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place.
What is Kindness From One Person to Another?
The most commonly thought of acts of kindness are those given from one person to another.
The recipient of the act may or may not be someone who is known to the person performing the act of kindness. They could be a family member, friend, acquaintance – or they could be a total stranger.
Classic examples of person-to-person kindness include helping an elderly person cross the street, carrying someone’s groceries, or paying for the coffee order of the person in line behind you.
Even a simple hug can be an act of kindness, or a sincere “Thank you” to someone who has helped you in some way.
Essentially, any nice action you take that benefits someone else and is given without expectation of anything in return can be considered an act of kindness.
Read More About Kindness Toward Others:
- How to Make Time to be Kind, Even in a Busy World
- How an Affirmation Can Make You a Kinder Person
- How to Turn Neighbors into Friends Through Acts of Kindness
What is Kindness Toward Self?
An often-overlooked form of kindness is kindness toward one’s self, also called self-care. The consideration someone directs inward is vital to any person’s well-being.
Kindness toward self should not be confused with self-indulgence, selfishness, or narcissism. It is not about holding ourselves as more important or more deserving of good things than others are.
Rather, it demonstrates self-respect because the way we treat ourselves is often reflected in our behavior toward others, and it tells the world how we expect others to treat us.
Examples of good intentions toward the self could be relaxing in a hot bath at the end of a long day, exercising to keep your body healthy, or participating in a favorite hobby or sport.
It can also be mental kindness – accepting and forgiving yourself for a mistake, choosing to stay home and read a book instead of going to a party you aren’t interested in attending, or speaking honestly when someone has hurt or upset you.
Kindness toward oneself is a state of accepting yourself as you are, forgiving your past, and setting goals for your future.
Read More About Kindness Toward Ourselves:
- 13 Inspiring Quotes About Gratitude
- Life Lessons for Everyday
- A Simple Daily Affirmation: I Am Kind.
What is Kindness Toward The World?
This unselfishness we understand as kindness isn’t always directed toward specific people – and not necessarily even people at all. Animals, plants, and the world as a whole all benefit from acts of good intention.
Yes, the world needs kindness.
Rescuing a dog or cat from a high-kill shelter, planting trees in the local park, cleaning up trash along the shoreline are all examples of kindness to the world.
Purchasing sustainable products from ethical companies, minimizing the use of plastics, walking instead of driving are other examples.
The familiar “reduce, reuse, recycle” – that’s kindness, too.
All of these acts and choices demonstrate goodwill toward our world and are considered to be acts of kindness.
Read More About Kindness Toward Our World:
- The Best Online Sources for Organic Vegetable Seeds
- How to Make a Switch to Fair Trade Products: Brands You’ll Feel Good About Buying
- Handmade by True Artisans: A Fair Trade Gift Guide
The Significance of Kindness
Research has shown that kindness has some very positive effects on the person who does the thoughtful act.
Those who demonstrate goodness report
- increased happiness,
- healthier hearts,
- slower aging, and
- better relationships
than others who do not consider themselves to be kind. The more actively and consistently a person demonstrates kindness, the more dramatic these effects can be.
This is evidence that good intentions are really very important not only for the recipient, but also for the doer or giver of the altruistic act.
It’s also a proven fact that people grow more benevolent with practice. Perhaps due to the positive reactions we receive when we are good to others, the more kindness we show, the more likely we are to continue our gracious behavior.
Kindness begets more of the same.
Imagine how a few sincere acts of kindness could change a person, spread to others, and change the world!
How will you contribute?
Final Thoughts on Why We All Need to Try a Little Kindness
Hopefully, the concept of kindness, as well as the importance of kindness, are now crystal clear for you.
And although our society may often seem to reward us for being “tough” and intractable, the reality is that kindness is a valuable and necessary part of all of our lives.
We can always use more goodness in the world, but there’s an awful lot out there already if you look for it.
There are clear benefits to kindness, whether you find yourself on the giving or receiving end of it. And as Ingrid Newkirk so aptly stated,
“The wonderful thing is that it’s so incredibly easy to be kind.”
I am really happy to read this. I can’t say enough, thank you very much. Yes, we should be kind to others, but I think we need to be kind to the real world.
Thank you so much, Kaan. I am glad you enjoyed reading!
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this was very useful
Thank you Jessy! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
this was very useful.
Now more than ever, we need to focus on being kind. Thank you for such a positive post!
Thank you so much, Michelle – I do always try to look on the positive side, and kindness is one of my top values. I appreciate you taking the time to comment!
I enjoy reading this Lori and I agree it is so easy to be kind. If only we all can be kind to one another the world will be at peace instead of war.
Isn’t that so true! Some days I feel like kindness has disappeared – but then I look around me and see evidence of it everywhere! Thank you for reading!
It’s really awesome how you exposed kindness in different lights. I particularly had a hard time being kind to myself in the form of self love, and I still struggle with that sometimes, but I will say that I am better at it and it feels good. And it’s very true that that defines how others treat me. Thank you so much for sharing such a great post.
It can really be a struggle to be kind to ourselves sometimes, right? But it is so important! Thank you for reading and commenting!
Wonderful post, I really enjoyed it and found it really inspiring!
Thank you, Monique. I appreciate you taking the time to read!