The benefits of kindness
Last week was mental health week and there were plenty of articles on the importance of kindness and how it has a positive impact on our mental wellbeing. Not only is kindness a positive social skill but it can be invaluable in our relationships. Research has shown that marriages, where partners are kind to one another, rate higher for satisfaction and stability.
In recent months, as a result of most people’s lives being turned upside down by the pandemic, there have been an unexpected number of people who have offered regular acts of kindness to neighbours and local communities. The volume of people who have volunteered and the generous ways in which they are offering their help and support has, for many, restored their faith in humanity. These acts of kindness not only make the volunteers feel good but also makes those on the receiving end feel valued and cared for and for some it has been a lifeline when they find themselves cut off from the world.
Not everyone is able to volunteer their time freely or regularly, but we all can be more aware of those around us. We can notice when others need a little help or support and try to do what we can. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly smile to change someone’s day. Smiles are often contagious – and definitely something I don’t mind catching!
I have also noticed that many drivers are being far more polite and considerate. Waiting for those who are walking, running or cycling in the road. It also seems that many people are far happier to wave or smile at one another, whether they know them or not. Does this mean that people are happier with their lives now in spite of all their restrictions? Will we continue to do this when our lives find their new normal?
My hope is that our society will become kinder and more caring. That we will think about the impact that what we say or type will have on those our words are aimed at. It’s not that we can’t say what we think or feel, but why are we saying it? Does it need to be heard and if so how should it be said? My mother used to say ‘If you haven’t got anything nice to say then don’t say anything’. There’s a lot of wisdom in that! However, sometimes we do need to tell people things they don’t want to hear. We just need to be careful how we say it. Most people are more likely to listen to something that is difficult to hear if it is said in a kind and gentle way, than they are to something that may feel harsh or spiteful.
Being kind to others not only helps us to feel warmer towards them but also makes us feel better about ourselves. Feeling good about ourselves, liking ourselves, is a key factor in good mental well being.