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August 19, 2019

Why kindness is good for you — and everyone else

Mental Health Kindness

Content sponsored by IBC - Native (195x33)

Elderly woman smiling with a friend MangoStar_Studio /

If you’re performing an act of kindness, chances are it’s to help someone or make them smile. But did you know that there are scientifically proven benefits of being kind? Research has confirmed that acts of kindness can reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, all while increasing your self-esteem, energy, and optimism. And on top of feeling calmer and happier, it’s good for your physical health too! Kindness also helps lower blood pressure, reduce pain, and improve overall heart health.

The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves. – Amelia Earhart

According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, you don’t even have to be the one doing or receiving an act of kindness to feel the positive effects. Simply by witnessing a kind act, you get all the proven health and feel-good benefits. Studies also show that kindness is contagious. Whether you see, do, or receive an act of kindness, you’re more likely to pay it forward.

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not. – Samuel Johnson

One thing I try to practice (and teach my kids) is to be kind to all, not just those who are kind to me. I’m sure most of us can name a person who rarely smiles, is chronically grumpy, or is just plain rude. But what if those people are the ones who need our kindness the most? Odds are there’s something behind their less-than-sunny disposition — they may be grappling with pain (physical or emotional), a loss, trauma, or loneliness. Is it up to them to figure out how to work through their hurt? Yes. But can we be kind to them anyway even if we don’t particularly like them? Yup. Apparently this concept is not a new one and was practiced by a pretty popular Philadelphian — some call it the Benjamin Franklin Effect.

Ways to Practice Kindness

If you’re thinking that acts of kindness require time and money, it’s not always the case! Consider the idea that sometimes inaction can be the easiest way to practice kindness. Ever see something that you find ridiculous or appalling on social media? Skip writing a snarky comment. Did someone cut you off in traffic or not let you in at a merge? Ignore them. Focus on adding good energy into the world instead.

Ready to take action? Here are some acts of kindness that don’t cost a thing:

• Say please and thank you (a lot!)
• Leave a nice note for someone (a friend, spouse, child, mail carrier, teacher, etc.)
• Smile at people when you pass them
• Hold the door or elevator
• Pick up litter you see when you’re walking outside
• Mow someone’s lawn or shovel their driveway
• Let someone in while you’re driving
• Write feedback about a helpful employee in a store
• Offer your seat on the train or bus

And if you have a few dollars to spare, you could try for a bigger gesture: pick up someone’s tab in a restaurant, pay for the coffee of the person behind you at the drive thru, or deliver food to a fire or police station, nurses’ desk at a hospital, or the break room at your child’s school.

Volunteering is another wonderful way to spread kindness, and many get hooked on helping their community. It gives you a chance to connect with others and donate your time and energy to help someone in need. In the end, you’ll feel great knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life, and others will want to join you.

The bottom line? There’s no limit to how much kindness you can put into the world, and there will never be too much! Challenge yourself to do something kind each day that isn’t expected of you, and you’ll get the perks of better health and well-being.

This content was originally published on IBX Insights.

About Danielle Fisher

I love to learn about health and wellness and prefer the philosophy of making small changes consistently. The stakes are even higher now as I attempt to raise two little ones as kind and healthy humans. When I’m not working as a copywriter at IBX, I love to head outdoors, cook and bake, and catch up on my favorite shows after my kids are tucked in.

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