Kindness makes you happier and the world around you happier too.
It’s said we live in a post-truth age. We’re definitely in the age of astonishing news. What saddens me about recent global events is the apparent hatred, unkind words and actions being taken. It’s damaging in so many ways.
I think Canadians are very kind, but what if rather than worrying about the mercurial events in the world, we focus on being kind and adopt a “pay it forward” attitude?
We now have 24-hour news. That means that one can create immense anxiety — in themselves and others — if they tune into news too frequently. Fortunately we can counter that with paying it forward and being kind. Not only does that make others around you feel better, but it also has positive benefits for you.
Kindness makes you happier
The University of California (UC) San Diego and Harvard looked at the spread of cooperation in a social network and showed that good acts (kindness, generosity or cooperation) spread and have a significant impact further afield, which makes one act of kindness doubly valuable.
According to the UC and Harvard research: “When people benefit from kindness they ‘pay it forward’ by helping others who were not originally involved, and this creates a cascade of cooperation that influences dozens more in a social network.”
Imagine the impact we will have globally as we spread kindness to locals and visitors from around the world.
Research has shown that varying how you show kindness gives the most benefit. Often we think we won’t do something as it will take up too much time. The thing about being kind is it need not take long. Holding a door open, taking five minutes to listen or buying a coffee for someone is minutes in your day, but the impact may well last years.
I remember when we first arrived here, and were having issues getting visas and being able to stay, I was walking home one day feeling down as I found it all rather stressful. I finally sat on a wall and cried. A man passing stopped and said, “Oh dear, are you all right? What’s the matter?”
I told him through the sobs and then his phone rang. He muted it, ignored it and then said, “It all sounds very stressful, but I promise it will work out. I know it seems hard to believe but it will. Keep your chin up.”
I’ll never forget that he stopped and listened to me, silenced his phone, put his life on hold to be kind. He likely had somewhere to go, deadlines, his own stresses, but all those years later I remember the kind man taking the time to reassure me. It did work out and many years later I am Canadian, but his simple act of kindness had a lasting impact.
Benefits of being kind
Dr. David R. Hamilton, author of The Five Side Effects of Kindness says: “Did you know that performing acts of kindness lowers your blood pressure? Or that kindness has the power to relieve depression, boost self-esteem and reduce social anxiety by physically changing the brain?”
I am excited to read his book.
Don’t forget to be kind to yourself too. Sometimes we forget to love and accept ourselves; some of us are our own worst critics. It’s tough to be kind to others when we aren’t kind to ourselves. That’s where the balance is, taking time to replenish your energy levels so that you can give to others.
So here’s to being kind to ourselves and where we can, being kind to others.
Some ideas to be kind:
Open the door for someone.
Let someone on the bus before you.
Pay it forward and pay for a coffee for someone behind you.
Lend someone something they need.
Clear your neighbours’ driveway.
Write a letter to someone sharing why they are precious to you.
Cook a meal for someone who is injured.
Babysit for friends.
Make a cup of tea for someone.
Give someone else the parking space.
Volunteer at a local organization — it’s amazing how much you can achieve in two hours.
Give a listening ear.
Words have power
Joanna knows that a smile can make someone’s day.
– First published at: http://www.whistlerquestion.com/opinion/columnists/non-toxic-living-kindness-making-you-and-the-world-around-you-happier-1.9715249#sthash.Va1b1e5H.dpuf