Kindness – why kindness matters

Kindness can take many forms – anything from a smile from a stranger, someone offering you a seat on the bus to a friend helping you out in a crisis.

We all know how nice it is to be on the receiving end of kindness, but did you know that being kind to others has been scientifically proven to improve your mental health and sense of wellbeing? For example, being kind not only reduces stress it can also improve your mood, self-esteem and happiness.

(Greater Good Science Center, USA, 2020)

An act of kindness doesn’t have to be huge, even a small one can make a big difference. When you choose to do something that helps others, it pays dividends both ways. It's easy to be someone who makes others feel special.

The benefits of being kind:

  • Evidence shows when you help others, it promotes changes in the brain linked with happiness.
  • It creates a sense of belonging and reduces isolation.
  • It can help you feel more positive about your own circumstances.
  • It helps make the world a better place.
  • The benefits of helping others last long after the act itself.

Here are some ways you can show kindness to make someone else feel good and improve your own wellbeing:

1. Tell someone you love and appreciate them

Everyone likes to hear how appreciated they are, so if there's someone close to you, let them know just how much you care for them.

2. Say thank you

Make sure you say thank you to people who do nice things for you. Gratitude and kindness go hand in hand!

3. Keep in touch

Call a friend or whānau member you haven’t spoken to or seen in a while. Have a chat or arrange to catch up in person – perhaps for a coffee or invite them round for a family meal. Make a commitment to keep in touch regularly.

4. Keep a smile on your dial

Next time you’re out and about, smile at a stranger. It’s free and will brighten up their day and make you feel good. You may get one back too.

5. Volunteer

Volunteering is good for the community, makes you feel good, gives you work experience and is a good way to meet new people and learn new skills.

Image: 123rf

Volunteering could be getting involved with a local gardening group, community project or even offering to help at the local school. If you want to protect the environment, you could get involved in a beach clean-up or tree-planting scheme.

6. Pick up rubbish

Be kind to the planet and pick up any rubbish you see lying around. Recycle your rubbish and do your bit to help the environment.

7. Check on your neighbours

When was the last time you checked on an elderly or vulnerable neighbour? Pop over for a chat, see if they are okay or need a helping hand with anything around the house. You might be able to offer them a meal, help with light chores or pick up their groceries for them.

8. Send a thank you card or flowers

If someone has shown you kindness, send them a thank you note or drop off flowers to show your appreciation. It doesn't have to cost much – you could even share a lettuce or other produce from your garden.

Image: Canva

9. Do some baking

Dust off your apron and get baking for friends, workmates or a local community group. Make sure you list all the ingredients for people who may have allergies.

10. Give someone a compliment

Compliment someone on their appearance or something they’ve done and feel the warm fuzzies flow.

11. Offer to help a new colleague

If there is a new person in the office, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable and welcome. Offer your help, show them the ropes and make sure they get invited to regular office events like team lunches.

12. Raise money for a good cause

Donate your time to a good cause or one that is close to your heart. Start a fundraiser to raise money to help a person or charity in need. You could organise this through work with a fancy dress day, or a fun weekend challenge such as a 5km run.

13. Donate unwanted clothing and household items 

Have a wardrobe clean out and give away any unwanted or unused clothes, toys and homewares to those in need. Ask at your local charity shop if they would like your clean, wearable goods or contact an organisation such as Women's Refuge, Woven Earth or Red Cross.

14. Be nice to customer service staff

Be polite and appreciative to waiters, café workers, checkout operators, call centre staff and other people who work in customer service. Smile and remember a genuine “thank you” can go a long way.

15. Give up your seat on the bus

If the bus or train is full and you see someone who needs to sit down, offer them your seat.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun with it! Remember not to overdo it and make sure you don’t give or do too much at the expense of your own wellbeing. It’s important to set aside time for yourself so you don’t burn out.

References

  1. Kindness matters guide Mental Health Foundation UK
  2. The importance of kindness Psychology Today, US
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.