Does kindness REALLY make us happy?
In brief. Yes. Experts have been studying the science of kindness for decades and much has been written about the benefits of being kind. Kindness makes us feel good, mentally and physically. Read on...
Although most humans are naturally altruistic (that’s why we get upset when we see other people being upset), kindness is something that can be nurtured, too. And why wouldn’t you want to nurture kindness? After all, it makes yourself and others happier, and makes the world a better place.
Here are some of the top habits of kind people:
Be kind to yourself
This is rule number one.
Whenever I’m worrying about other people (which is often) and I’m not sure how to help them, my mum always says the same thing - “First, you have to be kind to yourself”. What she means is that you’re in a much better place to help other people if you’re in a good place too.
Every so often, I find it handy to take stock of any areas I think I could be happier. Try dividing your life into sections (e.g. social, work, hobbies etc.) and identify any areas you think could be improved, before coming up with a few simple changes you could make to do so. Whilst this may seem a clinical way of doing things, it can really help to lay it all down on paper.
The happier you are, the more happiness you can spread to others!
A few years back, I started using The Five-Minute Journal, a diary which helps you to recognise the things in your life that you’re grateful for and how to nurture them.
You can do this yourself at home - all you need is a notebook and pen on your bedside table. Every morning, list three things you’re grateful for and try make them different every day. It may be that you’re grateful for the people in your life - a loving family, a supportive partner, thoughtful friends - or everyday things we take for granted - our five senses, a roof over our head, or a hot cup of tea.
Either way, acknowledging the good in your life will make make you realise that relationships (among other things) are something worth protecting and nurturing. And of course, the best way to do that is by being kind!
When others are talking, it can be tempting to cut in with your opinion or similar stories, therefore cutting the speaker off. Whilst this can be the basis for good conversation, it can often make people feel like they haven’t really been heard or listened to.
Instead, try listening wholeheartedly and if you find your mind wondering, train yourself to bring your attention back to what the speaker is saying. Like anything, becoming a good listener takes practice!
It seems that now more than ever, friends and families are spread across the country. People often stay in the city they went to university in or move for career opportunities, making it difficult to see loved ones on a regular basis... but that doesn’t have to mean you can’t connect with them.
Perhaps in your last conversation they told you there was something coming up that they were nervous about - a work review, meeting the in-laws, a driving test etc. Sending a little card or even a text message out of the blue will let the other person know you’re thinking of them and give them that confidence boost that can make all the difference.
Think of the kindest people you know. Do they have any habits which make you feel appreciated and cared for? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!