Does kindness matter?
I think so, and there are compelling reasons to make it a priority in our lives, for the world needs it now more than ever.
A few months ago, while watching television in a hotel in the Midwestern United States, I saw a commercial for a local program which mentors the elderly.
I heard the narrator say, “One of the ways we mentor the elderly is take them out and teach them how to shoot squirrels.”
Seriously? Mindless killing of animals just to pass the time? That really breaks my heart.
Even more amazing was that this aired less than one week after the uproar over the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” Paul Farmer
7 reasons why kindness matters
Research shows that repeated acts of kindness:
- Makes you happier.
- Improves your immune system and health.
- Lowers the rate of depression .
- Makes you feel more creative.
- Causes employees to want to work harder for employers.
- Increases the endogenous opioids in the brain, giving us a natural high.
- Create the feeling of “emotional warmth,” producing the hormone oxytocin which in turn helps reduce blood pressure and protects the heart.
I had a friend with a very successful dental practice who had his receptionists practice answering the phone in front of a mirror with a smile on their face. Why? Because that warm emotion of smiling would come across in their voices as they answered the phone, making the caller feel welcomed.
I know that given a choice between doing business with a company with a friendly receptionist and a grumpy one, I will always choose the former.
“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” William Arthur Ward.
Ways to manifest kindness
Kindness to ourselves
This is probably the hardest thing for a person to achieve. Kindness to self includes:
- Learning when to say, “no.”
- A healthy diet.
- Getting a good night’s sleep every night.
- Stopping negative self-talk.
- Giving yourself compliments every day!
- Laughing regularly.
- Letting yourself cry.
Kindness to strangers
On a personal level, everyone we meet is facing some kind of challenge we know nothing about. A simple smile or act of kindness might make their whole day, and it costs us nothing.
Look strangers in the eye and give them a smile and a thank you. The clerk behind the checkout counter at the grocery store – did you look them in the eye? Would you recognize them again if you passed them on the street?
Greeting someone new in the neighborhood, office or church will make them feel welcomed and helps create a sense of community.
Exhibiting kindness to strangers can go a long way towards solving the world’s problems.
We are all aware of the tragedy of the Syrian refugees trying to escape certain death in Syria and yet with nowhere to go. The irony is that, if each country would display an act of kindness, open its doors, and welcome just a few, the crisis would be solved.
Pope Francis encouraged every single Catholic parish in Europe to “take in one migrant family.” This call to the region’s approximately 120,000 parishes would solve the problem with ease.
“In front of the tragedy of the tens of thousands of refugees escaping death by war or hunger, on the path towards the hope of life, the Gospel calls us, asks us to be ‘neighbors’ of the smallest and most abandoned.” Pope Francis
Kindness matters, and kindness multiplies exponentially when we all contribute to it.
“It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” – Irish proverb
Kindness to animals
“We should have respect for animals because it makes better human beings of us all.” Dr. Jane Goodall
Animals are sentient beings. Indigenous peoples around the world understand that, teach that, and live their lives with animals as their teachers, companions and guides.
Yes, animals will be killed for food, but first there is a prayer ceremony to ask the animal to be willing to give it’s life, and the emphasis is on teaching hunters to kill quickly, painlessly, with a first strike of a bullet or arrow.
And the Original Peoples never took more than they needed. That is a manifestation of kindness.
Who and where are we?
Kindness matters more than we think. One day our very lives may depend on it.
Viewed from space, there are no borders separating countries on Earth. We are all just one human race, trying to survive on a planet hurtling around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour.
It’s rather amazing we’re still here. Tragedies happen every day. One could happen to you, and you will be forever grateful to the person who offers you kindness and a friendly hand.
Why not pay it forward?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou