What is kindness?

Recently Rachel and I read a book on compassion and helping others called Compassionate Kids. Kindness is being nice to others and treating others fairly, how you want to be treated. Rachel treats others with kindness by doing favors for them. She helps clean out the dishes at home for her dad and gives the dogs water. Kindness is also being friendly and considerate. Rachel likes to spend time with friends either talking on the phone or hanging out together.

Kindness is also about being warmhearted, considerate, and sympathetic. It is more than just being nice. Kindness takes practice to understand and feel it. We share love with others through kind acts such as a smile, a nice word, an unexpected deed, or a planned surprise. When we offer these acts to others, we make people feel good; we pass along hope; we promote peace; we show the power of kindness. Mr. Rogers said it best about what it means to be successful:

“There are three ways to ultimate success:

The first way is to be kind.

The second way is to be kind.

The third way is to be kind.”

Being kind also has some health benefits. Doing something nice for someone causes the release of endorphins, which help to relieve pain. People who make kindness a habit have lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Intentionally helping others can even lower levels of anxiety in individuals who normally avoid social situations.

Acts of generosity and compassion also appear to be good for mood. There was a 2010 study that showed that while people with money tend to be somewhat happier than those without it, people who spend money on others report even greater levels of happiness, an effect that can be detected even in toddlers.

If we learned anything today, it has to be that practicing kindness is good for both you and others.

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