For the month of December (and undoubtedly beyond!) we’ll be focusing on the concept of kindness. We’ll be reflecting on issues such as the benefits of kindness, why we should be kinder to ourselves and how can we bring a little more kindness into our lives and the lives of those around us. Read on, stay tuned and follow us on social media… it’s time to think about how we can all be that little bit more kind.
Here we reflect on why we need more kindness, whether it’s in our nature to be kind and some of the psychological benefits of kindness.
Why we need a little more kindness in our lives
You have more than likely been drawn to this post because you have an interest in promoting kindness. Perhaps you’ve recently witnessed a kind or unkind act and it has got you thinking. Perhaps you noticed someone in desperate need of some kindness in their life. Perhaps your journeys as parents or carers have made you reflect on society, growing inequality and tendencies for competition to be valued too highly over kindness and cooperation.
Whilst on occasions there is a noticeable lack of kindness out there in the world, there are often signs of the same when it comes to the way that we treat ourselves. How often have you been so distracted by growing to-do lists that you have failed to enjoy a special moment that you have been looking forward to? How many times have you multitasked whilst eating and failed to even savour a tiny bite? How many times have you berated yourself for doing too little, doing too much, going too fast, going too slow or even stopping? And we won’t even go into the effects of the impossible standards communicated to us in each daily barrage of highly filtered, media images.
Reflections on society, politics and even the way that we think about ourselves and others seem to suggest that both interpersonal and intrapersonal unkindness is increasing.
The world needs more kindness and it’s highly likely that you need to be kinder to yourself too!
Kinder by nature
At your very core, are you biologically driven to be selfish or kind? The debate as to whether humans are innately good (and therefore made ‘bad’ by their environment) or innately bad (and therefore made ‘good’ or socialised by their environment) is a long standing one.
Coming from an area that has its roots in humanistic psychology, I truly believe that we are born with an innate need to be connected to others, to experience empathy and, ultimately, to be kind and oriented towards positive personal and interpersonal growth. Indeed, some researchers suggest that we have evolved to be kind and cooperative and that this is the ultimate route to a meaningful life. We have discussed how meaning is a fundamental element of wellbeing in a previous post.
The Benefits of Kindness
Kindness is not just good for the recipient, the community and society at large- it’s good for YOU!
Psychologists have found that engaging in an act of kindness increases your general wellbeing. Kind acts have been found to reliably produce the greatest single momentary increase in wellbeing of any other positive psychology exercise.
On a grander scale, research suggests that there is a virtuous cycle or feedback loop at work when it comes to kindness. Being kind makes you feel happy and being happy makes you feel kind. Therefore, it seems to be the case that our acts of kindness promote lasting happiness and, ultimately, even more kindness.
Just in case you you needed any more reasons to spread and promote kindness this month (and hopefully forever!), here are a few of the benefits that have been linked to kindness:
increased oxytocin and serotonin levels
So, with all that in mind, here’s to being kinder to ourselves and others!
Take a look at this month’s ACTIVITY PACK if you’d like to explore the topic of kindness with your little one or gift a pack this month! It contains a fantastic children’s book on kindness and a craft activity.