How much does kindness matter?
Kindness can have a profound effect on mental wellbeing, both for the person giving and the person receiving the act of kindness.
When we are kind to each other, it provides us with a sense of purpose that can directly boost our mood and overall sense of wellbeing. Giving a helping hand, sharing a compliment or simply taking time to listen are all acts of kindness.
What do we know?
Studies have found that acts of kindness can increase dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, two neurotransmitters that play a key role in positive feelings, increasing happiness and improving wellbeing.
Practicing kindness can help to reduce stress and anxiety. When we focus on the needs and concerns of others, we are distracted and less absorbed by our own worries and negative thoughts, instead we feel helpful. This can help break a cycle of rumination and improve our ability to manage stress.
For the person on the receiving end of kindness the effects can be equally as powerful. Acts of kindness increases feelings of social connection and belonging, which are key factors in overall psychological fitness. When we feel valued and cared for by others, we are more likely to experience positive emotions and a greater sense of purpose.
In fact, research has shown that acts of kindness can have a ripple effect, spreading positivity and improving emotional wellbeing of not just the recipient but others around them as well. This creates a positive feedback loop that can have benefits for both individuals and communities.
Many research studies have found that children who expressed kindness towards other people are more likely to have better mental health, and better outcomes in many areas of life, including relationships, performance in the workplace, and physical health. So teaching children and young people about the benefits of kindness is really important.
Teach the ‘how to’ of being kind:
- Tell them about why being kind matters, and help them experience kindness themselves.
- Model kind behaviour – children are like sponges watching how the adults around them behave, so show them through your own kind acts.
- Praise their acts of kindness. However small, let them know that what they did was kind. This
provides specific details about what ‘kindness’ looks like.
- Point out acts of kindness in people ‘like them’. If they can see others ‘a bit like me’ being kind, it’s easy to copy and pass it on.
A final thought
By making a conscious effort to show kindness and generosity towards others, we can cultivate a more positive and fulfilling life for ourselves and those around us.
How will you practice kindness today?