If you are still preparing for how you want 2017 to go, there is a new trend catching on that I encourage you to consider, and that is the act of kindness. I’m sure you’ve heard about the benefits of practicing gratitude, which is where you recognize and appreciate all that you have in your life. I’ve been doing this, in what started out as participating in a 100-day gratitude challenge – it caught on and I’m now on day 515. It has changed my outlook and has attracted so many positive things for me, both personally and professionally.
According to an article in Parade Magazine, kindness is ‘at the heart of intimacy, connection, self-respect and respect for others’; benefits include: happier and bigger hearts, better physical health, more connected neighborhoods, emotionally intelligent kids, better busienss, and a more connected world (Lerner, 2017). A Kindness USA poll found that only 25% of Americans feel we are living in a kind world (Parade Magazine, 2017); I question why this change has occurred but recognize numerous factors that could lead to this alarming number.
Just like gratitude, being kind to others raises the happy chemical in our brain and we feel more positive and happier; our overall health improves as our heart rate goes down, stomach issues don’t arise and our outlook improves. The best part is that kindness is free; it is done from our choice and free will in trying to make a difference in someone else’s life; it’s important to remember that we don’t know what someone else is dealing with.
Kindness can take many forms:
- small acts – holding the door open for someone, letting someone out in traffic, helping a coworker on a project they’re working on, or giving a compliment
- saying thank you – this can be verbally or in written form, such as sending a card letting them know how much they mean to you, or through a text message or email
- spending time together – as we can get busy, making time for someone is a great way to be kind, which can be your family, friends, someone you haven’t seen in a long time, or going to visit residents of a nursing home in your area (as most don’t get visitors)
- donations – cleaning your closets out and giving to a local charity can help those in need; giving money to a nonprofit or charity is another way to ensure those who need have those needs met
- volunteer – this involves giving of your time to a cause you believe in, such as children, elderly, veterans, or animals
- get a group together – this can include family members or your neighbors who can spread kindness, but as a group. One suggestion would be walking for a cause, or sprucing up your neighborhood or a neighbor’s yard
- recognition at work – giving compliments, recognizing the work of others, celebrating accomplishments or milestones, saying ‘thank you’
- pay it forward – pay for the person behind you in line or buy someone’s meal or groceries
These are just some suggestions to get you started, which don’t just apply to our personal life – we need to use them in our work environments, as well. When we truly practice kindness, we are not expecting anything in return, so you will want to check your motives. But giving to others will come back to you ten thousand-fold in the end. You will be a better human being for doing so, which then spreads to others and we will have a kinder world in the end.
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