And be kind to those you don’t know as well.
There is a reason I constantly remind you to be kind to others. It’s not because I’m on a mission to make over this world. I’m not trying to uphold myself to some standard or compare myself to the Dalai Lama or The Pope. I encourage you to be kind to yourself, and others, because not only does it breed more kindness, but it also make you feel better. That improves your mental well being and physical health. It could also improve someone else’s health too!
Helping others works as a domino effect. Don’t believe me?
How would you feel if a stranger paid for your coffee this morning at Starbucks? I bet your heart would skip a little beat and there would be a smile on your face (after the shock wears off of a stranger doing something nice for you, no strings attached.). What would you most likely do next? Mouth off at the barista for taking so long to make your (free) drink during the morning rush? No, I bet you’d do something better than that. After getting your free drink, you may thank the barista and tell him/her to have a wonderful day. Or you may hold the door open for someone as you leave who has their hands full. Maybe you allow the car in the right lane to get in front of you so they don’t miss their turn. Maybe, just maybe, you pay it forward and pay for the drink of the stranger behind you.
Then think how the next person feels, you saying “Have a great day!” instead of a grunt, having held the door open, allowing someone to merge in. They would be shocked at your kindness at first, then smile, and their heart would skip a little happy beat. Then maybe, just maybe, that person would do something kind for someone else. See how this is working?
When someone is kind to us, we feel good. It puts us in a good mood, and we’re more likely to take a little extra time to make someone else happy too.
Being kind also gives you a boost far beyond creating a domino effect of charity. When we do something kind for someone else, altruism, our bodies release a happy hormone called endorphins. These endorphins can create so much joy that it can mimic the effect of consuming morphine. This phenomenon is referred to as the “Helper’s High.”
“Research at the National Institutes of Health showed that the same area of the brain that is activated in response to food or sex (namely, pleasure) lit up when the participants in the study thought about giving money to a charity.” (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu)
Helping others, either by giving your money or time, benefits you in multiple ways. By helping others you feel useful and are more likely to appreciate what you already have in your own life. You recognize your own blessings and are more mindful of those in need. Giving to others can help you feel more satisfied, not in a guilty kind of way though. You see how your help is benefiting others and that makes you feel proud. It makes you feel as though you have a purpose and influence in someone’s life.
Being kind can also distract you from your own problems. If you volunteer your time at a soup kitchen, nursing home, church, or school, your involvement in the activities takes your mind off your own stresses. This distraction works similar to meditation where clearing your mind of all your worries and focusing on something else helps your body process the stress and reduces the cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in your body. That in turn can also improve your overall health where stress is a main contributor to pain and illness.
You do not need to throw money at people to be kind and achieve the Helper’s High. In fact, you’ll probably feel better if you use your time instead. When I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in high school a director once said, “The best gift you can give someone is your time.” You cannot take back your time spent, you cannot equate it to a monetary value, and it’s personal.
Here are some ideas on how to be a kinder person to get you started:
- Hold the door open for someone
- Smile! Free, quick, and change someone’s day in an instant!
- Compliment someone’s clothing, hair, or accomplishment
- Donate unused toys to kids in need; clothes to the homeless, goods to services such as Purple Heart and the National Federation of the Blind. Schedule a pick using this link: https://www.gogreendrop.com/
Also, don’t forget to be kind to Yourself!
We’re made to think that spending time on ourselves is selfish and should be the lowest priority on our list. However, self care is just as important for your wellness. Make time to do something you enjoy (take a walk, a bath, read a magazine). Self care doesn’t just include your physical health, it also involves your mental health. How we speak to ourself should be as healthy as what food we feed our bodies and how often we exercise. Instead of talking down to yourself that you’re not good enough or attractive enough, try this:
While undressing for your shower, look at yourself in the mirror and say something nice about yourself. And don’t counter it with, “Oh, but my butt is sagging.” Every time you say something negative about yourself, you need to say something positive and beautiful. You need to start seeing yourself as beautiful, both inside and out. While naked in front of the mirror, you are most vulnerable. But you also see everything there is physically. Maybe there is a scar from an accident or surgery.-be thankful you survived it and are alive today. Also, recognize your inner beauty. You’re thoughtful, you’re courageous, you’re helpful, you’re understanding.
Society put a BIG definition on what “beauty” is, but it’s not always correct. Every person on this Earth is beautiful. Be kind to yourself, recognize your beauty, and be proud of it.