What is Kindness and Why is it 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 why is kindness so important?
What is Kindness?
Kindness is considered to be a virtue in most religions and cultures.
It even has its own holiday – February 17th has been designated as National Random Acts of Kindness Day.
But, what exactly constitutes kindness? Generally, it is a quality of being generous and considerate, with no expectation of reward, credit, or return of similar. We do it just because it is the right thing to do.
Thoughtfulness From One Person to Another
Acts of kindness are most commonly thought of as being given from one person to another. Classic examples of this 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.
Essentially, any nice action you take without expectation of a return can be considered an act of kindness.
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Consideration of Your Self
An often-overlooked form of kindness is self-care. The consideration someone shows themself is vital to any person’s well-being because the way we treat ourselves tells the world how we expect others to treat us.
Examples of good intentions toward the self could be 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 is also mental – accepting and forgiving yourself for a mistake or choosing to stay home and read a book instead of going to a party you aren’t interested in attending.
It’s a state of accepting yourself as you are. The ability to laugh at yourself (but not in a self-deprecating way) is an awesome form of self-kindness.
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Charity For The World
This unselfishness isn’t always directed toward people. Animals, plants, and the world as a whole all benefit from acts of good intention.
Rescuing a dog or cat from a high-kill shelter, planting trees in the local park, cleaning up trash along the shoreline. Purchasing sustainable products from ethical companies, minimizing the use of plastics, walking instead of driving. The familiar “reduce, reuse, recycle”. All of these demonstrate goodwill to our world.
Why is Kindness Important?
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 as altruistic. And the more actively a person demonstrates this good intention, the more dramatic these effects can be. This means kindness is really very important for the giver, not just the receiver.
It’s also proven that we grow benevolent with practice. Perhaps due to the positive reactions we receive when we are good to others, we are more prone to continuing our gracious behavior. Kindness begets more of the same. Imagine how a few sincere acts could change a person, spread to others, and change the world!