It’s well documented that being kind, and receiving kindness, positively impacts our wellbeing. There isn’t just anecdotal evidence to support this. Hundreds of scientific studies prove that kindness is vital to our happiness. But did you know that kindness can help you live longer? And that being kind is more beneficial than receiving kindness?
Kindness is at the core of our values at Theatretrain, and in this series of blogs we look at what kindness actually is, how it helps us learn, the skills children gain when they practise being kind and why learning to be kind to ourselves is important for mental health.
Receiving kindness makes everything alright
Most of us have been in a situation where we’ve needed someone to support us, and have appreciated the kindness shown to us. Often we have distinct memories of being a child when we’ve felt included, valued, treated with generosity, forgiven, helped or encouraged. And sometimes we can recall when we haven’t had that support, when we’ve experienced unkindness and the devastation it’s taken on our self-esteem and confidence.
Kindness isn’t just about what happens in the moment when we receive it. It has a lasting effect on us and how we view the world.
theatretrain – building a better future for our kids
- It increases our sense of connection and belonging with others
- It gives us perspective about the situation we find ourselves in, so we can see beyond the here and now
- It makes us appreciate and feel grateful for having people around us who care
- It increases our confidence because we feel supported
- It encourages us to try new things because we have the security to fail
- It makes us feel less alone
- It improves our overall mood
- It enhances our social skills because we feel kinship with the people around us
- We dare to show kindness to others in return
- We are more likely to show our vulnerability to others and be more open
So what happens when we are kind to others?
A 2018 study of employees at a Spanish company found that people who delivered acts of kindness benefited more than those receiving kindness. While it showed an increase in happiness for everyone involved, those that gave also felt a boost to their life and job satisfaction.
Being kind makes us feel more capable and strengthens our belief in ourselves. It gives us a sense of purpose.
“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.”
Harold S. Kushner
Being kind makes us live longer
Columbia University Doctor, Kelli Harding, has been examining how kindness makes us live longer in her book, The Rabbit Effect. She says: “[Kindness] helps the immune system, blood pressure, it helps people to live longer and better.”
Daniel Fessler, from UCLA’s Bedari Kindness Institute, also said: “Engaging in kindness, contemplating how you can be kind to others, lowers blood pressure. It has therapeutic benefits. There are benefits for treating depression and anxiety”.
Being kind and helping others has also been shown to be anti-aging and increase the immune system. It reduced anxiety and stress.
As Kekki Harding says: “It’s pretty amazing because there’s an ample supply and you can’t overdose on it. There’s a free supply. It’s right there.”
In our next blog we talk about the skills children develop when they are taught and shown kindness at an early age. But here are four ways to show kindness today:
- Listen to others instead of formulating an answer in your head while they speak
- Answer rudeness with kindness
- Be inclusive to everyone around you so you don’t leave out those who go unnoticed and unheard
- Take time to sit back, listen and appreciate the people around you