In the spirit of the holidays, I thought it might be nice to talk a bit about the spirit of giving and kindness. Although kindness is a human trait that’s generally encouraged in children, as we become adults it can be difficult to be kind to others, especially when we sometimes have a hard time being kind to ourselves. Gentleness, concern for well-being, warmth, these are all characteristics of kindness that we often don’t give enough of to ourselves, as the stress of work, business, family obligations, and other responsibilities can sometimes leave us exhausted and drained. Before you can be kind to others, you must be kind to yourself. That can involve anything from taking some time to wind down after a grueling day, to forgiving yourself or others for past mistakes.
Did you know that kindness is linked to increased longevity? An article in Psychology Today describes the chance for a longer, better life is strengthened through good relationships by up o 50%! It’s also about generosity. The key to a longer happier life is not just receiving kindness but giving it. Kindness is great for self-esteem and boosts energy. It also increases your level of happiness, and reduces stress, anxiety, depression and even blood pressure, which is good for you heart. There’s plenty of research to back this up. Kindness is also both teachable, and contagious. If you see someone doing something nice, the chances that you’ll perform an act of kindness yourself. These can acts can be as small as putting a quarter into someone’s parking expired parking meter, or helping someone with their bags. It’s the giving that increases your feelings of well-being and releases serotonin.
Two New Yorkers recently decided to experiment with this idea. Tim and Jessie live in New York, and became acclimated to moving quickly, found themselves feeling disconnected, and decided to test the notion of ‘treat others as you would like to be treated.’ So, they went ahead and developed their own 12 step system to try out on fellow city dwellers in order to develop their sense of empathy. They took simple actions like asking people how they could help, and left wallets around the city encouraging those that picked them up to pay it forward. You can see a pretty great overview of the project on Youtube that’ll give you a sense of what it was like to execute. If you want to learn more, you can check out 12 Kinds of Kindness to learn more about how to bring kindness into the lives of others.