The Importance of Incorporating Kindness Into Our Lives

We learn about kindness in tandem with our ABCs and 123s. As children, we were all taught to share our toys and say nice things to one another, yet somewhere along the way, kindness became something we have to actively remember to do. Like muscle memory, it comes right back, but it must be practiced often. 

I remember once I was at the grocery store using a self-checkout lane. I paid by debit card and selected to get some cashback. During my packing, I completely forgot to take the $50.00 that was dispensed. By the time I remembered, 15 minutes had passed, and when I got to the store, someone had taken it.

A customer overheard what happened, a kind older gentleman, and he opened up his wallet to give me $20.00. While grateful at the gesture, I declined, because I didn’t want him to pay for my mistake and the other person’s dishonesty. In addition, it felt wrong somehow to accept this money from the stranger. He would not take no for an answer, telling me that it would make him feel good to take the money and buy myself a nice lunch so that I could have a better day!

Over 10 years later, I still remember his kindness and how it made me feel. There was someone looking out for me, a complete stranger. Someone who simply wanted to make me happy by his gesture. 

Kindness Affects Your Well-Being

While kindness is something that we do and practice, it’s also much more than that. Kindness can improve your mood by increasing your empathy, self esteem, and compassion. On a physical level, it’s reported that it may aid in decreasing blood pressure and cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone.

Kindness is contagious; this is the one thing we want to spread and hope others catch it. It increases our sense of community and being connected to others. This is how I felt being on the receiving end of kindness. The man in the grocery store made me feel like I had a community, comprised of people I don’t know but who wouldn’t hesitate to help. 

Kindness Affects Your Mind

We have neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, in the brain that give us the feeling of satisfaction and well-being. According to Psychology Today, these levels are boosted when we practice kindness. Our pleasure/reward centers in the brain light up, triggering happiness.

A few years ago I was at the airport going through security, with a passenger a few feet ahead of me who was visibly drunk. As he was swaying, he took one step forward and threw up on another passenger, a young woman, ahead of him. She was absolutely devastated. Her shoes, socks, and pants were soiled. Feeling bad for her, I wanted to help.

I approached her and asked if I could get her a pair of leggings at the gift store. All she had was a blanket wrapped around her. I could see the relief in her eyes and heard it in her grateful, “Yes please.” I bought her a pair of leggings, new socks, and a snack for good measure. She was a student and said she didn’t have any extra money and genuinely thanked me.

I remember the feeling of happiness I felt as I helped her and could see her mood lift. I’ve thought of her from time to time, happy that I was able to show her some kindness and hoping that she was able to pay it forward.

Small Gestures Can Make a Big Impact

I was listening to a podcast the other day and came across a project showing how small interactions with strangers can make a big impact. There doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture when it comes to kindness. A genuine small, friendly hello or gracious compliment can be enough to make a person’s day. This is one way that I routinely practice kindness.  As someone who is not shy to talk to strangers, I will often greet someone, give a compliment, or strike up a short conversation.

Another small gesture I like to do is to thank those who do work every day that impact my life, but do so in the background. I make a point of talking to the worker who cleans my office, our mail carrier, and our sanitation workers. I like for them to know that their work doesn’t go unnoticed and that I appreciate it.

Turn That Kindness Inwards

It’s funny how we can desire to be more kind to others and put it in practice daily, yet when it comes to ourselves, we often don’t practice what we preach. How many times have we uttered an unkind thought to ourselves, not given ourselves grace, or failed to take care of our mental and physical health? There are many ways to show ourselves kindness, including:

As we work to incorporate more kindness into our lives, to ourselves, and those around us, I think about the quote I stumbled across by the essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said,  “You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon will be too late.” With that in mind, go ahead and sprinkle a little kindness everywhere. You never know how far-reaching it may be.

Looking for more kindness inspiration? Rhonda also shares more ideas on how to practice gratitude.


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