What is Kindness?
Kindness is the state or quality of being kind. It is a kind act, a favor, or kind behavior. Also, a friendly feeling or liking.
Some synonyms for kindness are tenderness, sympathy, goodness, gentleness, humanity, courtesy, understanding, altruism, grace, sweetness, unselfishness, benevolence, and goodwill.
Kindness as a Virtue
It has been said that kindness is a virtue. What’s a virtue? From Dictionary.com, virtue is defined as moral excellence, goodness, righteousness, and an admirable quality or property.
In the Talmud, a collection of writings by rabbis of the first century BCE, kindness, chesed in Hebrew, is a daily requirement, which is ultimately a lifetime requirement. This is essential to the character of a person, blending with the spirit of a person, and covers the whole range of virtues that integrate with interpersonal relationships – charity and compassion, love and respect.
In Christianity, seven virtues became identified after Pope Gregory I released his list of seven deadly sins in AD 590. These seven virtues are specific opposites to the seven deadly sins: humility against pride, kindness against envy, abstinence against gluttony, chastity against lust, patience against anger, liberality against greed, and diligence against sloth. Additionally, from Galatians 5:22-23, of the New Testament, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”
Greek Philosopher Aristotle held the belief that the highest virtue was intellectual contemplation. It’s been noted, depending on the source, that he identified as many as 18 virtues. Kindness may not have been one by name, but was under the umbrella of compassion. Aristotle defined kindness as, “helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped.”
Kindness in Action
There’s a popular quote, “Be the reason someone smiles today.” Whether it’s some act of kindness or some words of encouragement, do something for someone else. This will help you with your positivity. Placing yourself in the path of others with an opportunity to make them smile or make a difference in their day can go a long way to improving their day, your day, and possibly the world. Or, at the very least, your world at that time. But it certainly helps with adjusting your outlook with more positivity.
According to the Mayo Clinic, kindness is good for your body and your mind. Kindness has been shown to enhance your self-esteem, empathy, and compassion, as well as boost your mood. Kindness can also lower your blood pressure and cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Kindness can enhance your feelings of connection and relationships with others. It also can be contagious. Physiologically, kindness can positively change your brain. Being kind increases serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being. This causes the pleasure/reward centers in your brain to light up. In a brain imaging study by the University of British Columbia researchers showed that donating money to charity makes our brain’s “pleasure center” light up like a full moon on a clear night. In another study at the University of San Diego, acts of kindness, generosity, and cooperation are contagious. The study also proved that the practicing of compassion and kindness has several positive health benefits such as reducing anxiety, offsetting depression, increasing longevity, and strengthening immunity.
MIT meteorologist professor and mathematician Edward Norton Lorenz coined the butterfly effect in science during the 1960s. The hypothesis “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” isn’t meant to imply that this could actually happen. This is merely used to illustrate that a small action, like a butterfly flapping its wings, could – in theory – provide the spark in a chain of events that could ultimately culminate in the formation of a hurricane in another part of the world. In my humble opinion, the butterfly effect can be applied to acts of kindness.
Be the Change
A widely popular and often repeated quote from Mahatma Gandhi is, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” To explain this in other terms, we can interpret this quote as a message of wisdom. We have the ability to make personal changes, within ourselves, which will result in a positive impact on others and the world around us. And, if we change ourselves on an individual level, that will help people around us change. Otherwise, nobody may change because one might be waiting for someone else to change.
It has been said that kindness is contagious. Several studies have proven kindness and cooperative behavior are indeed contagious. From donating money to charities to witnessing acts of kindness to reading motivating messages that inspire us to perform acts of kindness, there is a ripple effect that creates happiness and encourages people to be kind.
Contemplate kindness. Remember that the smallest of actions or events can have a large impact in other areas beyond your expectations. And the feelings of happiness and kindness can even be infectious. So, be a contagious butterfly of virtue.
Peace, Love & Kindness
Acts of Kindness
|Give credit where credit is due.|
|Tell people how important they are to you.|
|Give compliments to vendors or contractors who work with you or your place of business.|
|Give random compliments to strangers.|
|Hold the door or elevator for someone.|
|Just smile at strangers and say, “Hello.”|
|Plant flowers at your bus stop or train station.|
|Leave quarters at a laundry mat.|
|When driving and someone wants to get into your lane, slow down and let ’em in.|
|Make a list of Acts of Kindness you’d perform.|
|Make a 30-Day Challenge with friends to perform Random Acts of Kindness. (use any of these 30)|
|Volunteer your time for a good cause or organization in your neighborhood.|
|Volunteer at your local library to help teach an adult how to read.|
|Volunteer at your local library to read stories to children.|
|Sign-up to be a RAKtivist at Random Acts of Kindness.|
|If you regularly buy coffee in a drive-thru line, buy it for the car behind you.|
|Pay for someone’s meal or drinks at a restaurant.|
|Over Tip your server.|
|Phone Friends or Family on Fridays – call friends and family members … make it a new habit.|
|Send encouraging emails or text messages to friends and family.|
|Tell your parents, siblings, children, and friends why you love them.|
|Compliment a parent on how well-behaved or polite their child is or their children are.|
|Offer a couple of hours of babysitting to parents you know and even pay for their ‘date night.’|
|If you take public transportation, give up your seat for someone, not just an elderly person.|
|If you take public transportation, buy the tickets for someone – or a family.|
|Buy restaurant gift cards and hand them out to homeless people – especially a family.|
|Buy an inspirational book for a friend or family member.|
|Buy cookies or cupcakes and take them on your next Doctor or Dentist appt.|
|Remember the bereaved with phone calls, texts, or cards – not just immediately after their loss.|
|Be kind to yourself; appreciate some alone time, take a walk, meditate, or just take some extra time to breathe.|
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
If you have the chance to be exposed to a loving, understanding environment where the seed of compassion, loving kindness, can be watered every day, then you become a more loving person.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness.
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”
~Lucius Annaeus Seneca
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way.”