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Can Being Kind Increase Happiness?

Kindness is often a disregarded and undervalued trait. While kindness can be an undervalued trait, it is important to note that true acts of kindness take courage and strength as well as demonstrate a great deal of interpersonal skill. It carries a great deal of importance in our lives, however. Kindness is simply the act of being good, friendly, and compassionate toward other people. It also encompasses an element of being altruistic, which means that you are being kind to others without the expectation of something in return. 

A few interesting facts about kindness:

Kindness can actually be good for you!

It can be helpful to both our physical and mental health. It’s been shown that even witnessing acts of kindness can produce oxytocin, which is often called the “love hormone.” Oxytocin helps to increase our optimism, confidence and even lower blood pressure. Kindness can also stimulate the production of serotonin, which can help you to feel happy. There was a research study done in Japan that showed that happy people were kinder than people who were not happy. So there really is a connection between our own happiness and being kinder to others.

Kindness has been shown to:

  • Help us to live longer 

  • Reduce stress

  • Help get rid of negative feelings

  • Increases optimism

  • Lowers blood pressure

  • Increases happiness

Kindness is contagious! 

After a person witnesses an act of kindness, they are more likely to engage in a good deed and “pay it forward.” Meaning that they are more likely to be kind to other people. Therefore, kindness is contagious and tends to spread.

To start living a kinder & happier life, here are some tips:

1. Start with being kind to yourself:

Remember that the happier you are, the more kind you will be to others. So first start with treating yourself in a kind matter. Many people find they can be critical of themselves or engage in negative self-talk. This includes that little voice in your head that may tell you that you can’t do something or that you aren’t good enough. Catch this negative self-talk and shoot it down. Engage in positive affirmations about yourself and your life. This will increase your overall positivity. Another activity that can help you begin to be kind to yourself is to make a list of your positive qualities and strengths. We can sometimes forget all of the great qualities that we possess. 

2. Be more present and mindful:

When you live in the moment, you’ll be more likely to notice people around you and see opportunities where you can be kind to others. Being more in tune with the present moment will allow you to view moments of kindness that may be happening around you that you would have otherwise not noticed. Research shows us that the witnessing of kindness can help us to feel more positive and optimistic as well as increase the likelihood that we will spread that kindness. The practice of mindfulness can also ease your daily stressors and help you to be more aware of your critical inside voice and therefore, increase the kindness toward yourself. 

3. Just start:

Do a small random act of kindness today or even this week. You can express gratitude to someone, hold the door open for a random stranger, or pay a compliment to a friend. It’s a small step toward a much bigger cause. Kindness is such an important concept for us on a personal level, for people around us, in our communities and neighborhoods and for all humans.

So remember - spread kindness today!

Blog written by: Dr. Shelley Sommerfeldt, Clinical Psychologist, Relationship Coach & Founder of the Loving Roots Project, an online wellness practice specializing in personal growth, mental wellness, & relationship betterment.

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