Think of the term “kindness.” You likely know what it means, even if you can’t necessarily put it into words. That’s because it’s actually a relatively complex and nuanced subject. This post will look at certain aspects of kindness, including why it’s important, its benefits, and ways to show it.
Why is Kindness Important?
We’ve been told to “treat others like we want to be treated” since childhood. But even if we’ve understood that kindness is essential, we’re rarely taught why.
Showing kindness is one of the main ways that you can attract new friends and maintain current relationships. That doesn’t just include casual acquaintances, though. In fact, research has shown that kindness is one of the most critical aspects of finding a romantic partner and keeping a strong marriage. It’s natural for humans to seek out both love and community, making kindness one of the most important aspects of our behavior.
Benefits of Kindness
Finding community and love aren’t the only benefits of kindness. Here are a few other ways that giving kindness can improve your own experience:
- It reduces isolation – by helping others, you’re forcing yourself to interact with other people. And that’s particularly important in today’s increasingly digital world, where isolation can easily become routine.
- It puts things in perspective – sometimes, everything seems like it’s all going wrong at once. But when you help other people, you see that the world isn’t just picking on you specifically.
- It improves the world around you – small acts of kindness may not seem like they change the world very much on their own. But while you may not be able to affect large problems like poverty or hunger, you can put effort into making the world around you better, one act of kindness at a time.
Ways to Show Kindness
So many individual acts of kindness exist that it would be impossible to list them all here. But often, these ways to show kindness fall into one of three categories.
- Doing Favors
One of the main ways that people show kindness to one another is by doing favors. This could be something as small as helping a friend complete their errands on a busy day. Hanging out with a friend when they’re having a bad time is also a great favor and a way to support them.
Doing favors doesn’t just help the person receiving them, though. It also helps you. First, it means they’re going to be more likely to help you if you’re ever in a jam. In addition, doing favors makes you more invested in someone’s life. When that happens, you form a deeper connection with them. And in today’s increasingly disconnected world, those kinds of bonds are more valuable than you might imagine!
Here’s one of the less obvious ways to show kindness. But that doesn’t make it any less important than the others we’ve listed.
Listening is one of the most important ways you can show kindness to a friend or loved one. If someone is taking the time to share something important with you, chances are they trust you. They also may need help getting to the bottom of a difficult situation they’re facing.
Never neglect to listen. Even if you have things going on in your own life (and let’s face it, we all do), lending an ear to a friend is something they’ll appreciate. What’s more, don’t be afraid to give advice! If you have a friend in a challenging situation, one of the kindest things you can do is listen to them and give honest, helpful advice. They’ll thank you for it later!
- Giving Gifts
Everyone likes getting presents. There’s no wrong reason to give (or receive!) a gift from birthdays to holidays or even just because.
Giving gifts is one of the most concrete, physical ways to show kindness to other people. And there’s actually so much more to it than meets the eye! Getting a gift for someone takes time, effort, and knowledge.
First, you need to know enough about them to choose a good gift. Then, you need to find said gift (although this is becoming easier and easier with the advent of the internet). Finally, you need to spend the effort to go through the whole gift-giving act in the first place. When you look at gift-giving under this lens, the value of the action can become just as important as the physical gift itself.
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How to Be Kind to Yourself (It’s Important!)
There’s one last aspect of kindness that we haven’t covered yet – being kind to yourself. Being kind to yourself or self-compassion is a critically valuable part of any self-care routine. University of Texas Professor Dr. Kristin Neff first coined the term on her eponymous website.
One thing that Dr. Neff talks about on her site is the mindset of self-compassionate people. These people realize that imperfection and messing up is just part of being a human. These difficulties are inevitable, and people need to recognize that. Rather than getting angry when your experience isn’t perfect, approach yourself with sympathy and kindness.