Six Steps To Solve The Kindness Equation

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Kindness is a powerful action that does as much for your physical health as it does for your mental health. Even better, while you practice random acts of kindness for others, your own body benefits as well. It’s a total win-win. Below are the steps to create more happiness in your environment, and why this matters.

Step One: You

The first thing we must do to bring kindness into your everyday life is to be kind to yourself. If you push yourself to the max all the time, the fatigue and stress will come through to those around you, even if you don’t notice yourself. So Step 1 is to be kind to yourself. 

Carve out time to do things you really enjoy or find relaxing. This may be a massage, a quite bath, or a walk in the garden. Whatever those things are for you, make sure to work them into your day when you can. And when you are on that walk or in that bath, take a moment to be grateful for this moment that you have given yourself.  

Step Two: Understanding

When someone cuts you off in traffic or is short with you in conversation, we typically react instinctively. We think how ugly that was, and what a awful rude no good nasty person they were. But if you knew that they just lost a loved one or maybe are struggling with a terminal illness, you might have a little more understanding. If you could only see the reason that lies behind the curtain, their response might make much more sense. 

And you likely didn’t know about it because most people don’t want to burden others with their own issues, so they just hold on to them. It might be good to approach them later or run get a coffee together, and ask how they are doing to make sure everything’s okay. In addition to learning more about this person, it will let them know that they may have lashed out a bit, and it also let’s them know that you actually care.    

Step Three: Plug In The Happiness Generator

There is an action that produces happiness. It’s called kindness to others. Check out this study showing how kindness increases your happiness: study. 

People were assigned to perform kind acts for certain people, and other subjects simply observed kindness in action. The random acts of kindness were done for those with strong social ties (friends, family), and also for weak social ties (perfect strangers). The data show that the subjects scored much higher on measures of happiness, and it did not matter whether it was done for your friends, strangers, or (most surprisingly) whether you simply observed it happening. 

One result that did pop out though, was that these measures of happiness increased directly in proportion to the number of kind acts performed. The more you share kindness, the better the happiness effect.     

Step Four: Be The Change

Gandhi said that we should “be the change that we want to see in the world”. This puts a spotlight on us to be the actors and effectors of the world around us, and there is every reason to believe this is the case for kindness as well. 

That’s because kindness is contagious. When you practice it simply and consistently, you affect others around you and they are encouraged to act in the same way by simple social osmosis. This viral effect helps create a wider culture of positive psychology around everyone. Just like bullies can create a dark culture of fear and repression around them, kindness can create the opposite atmosphere of positivity that everyone shares in. So choose to be kind. Choose to move your environment in a healthy direction.

Be the change.      

Step Five: Better To Give Than To Receive

All bets are off if your kindness is just self-serving. The impact of being kind on you and those around you really relies on the assumption that you are being kind just to be kind, not because you expect a certain return on your emotional investment.  

In fact, keep a mindset that you should never expect anything in return for your actions. The point of the act of giving is the giving itself, not the receiving.  Although this may be difficult for some, it’s a critical part of the kindness equation.  

Step Six: Keep At It

Every person has two basic factors they have to perform in acts of kindness:

  1. thinking to do them at all, and
  2. carrying them out.

Both of these can be tough. For most of us, we’re just living our lives and it may not even occur to us to practice kindness. And once the thought does occur, you may be busy or maybe even a little embarrassed by stepping outside our social norms of dis-interested behavior.  

But it is much like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. So start small to get going. Maybe write yourself a reminder note on your phone or sticky pad. When you see it in your day, remind yourself to be on the lookout for opportunities to be kind, even if it is some thing small for someone in some way.

The more you do it, the easier it will become.  

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