This Saturday, 13th November, is World Kindness Day! You may be aware that there is a Random Acts of Kindness group, and you might have watched the fantastic film Pay It Forward, both of which encourage us to demonstrate kindness to strangers.
But what you might not know is that being kind is actually great for our well-being!
When you look for dictionary definitions of what kindness actually means you might read things such as:
- A kind, considerate or helpful act
- The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate
- The quality or state of being kind treating people with kindness and respect
There may be subtle nuances in the definitions, depending on which dictionary you’re looking at but, the one thing neuroscientists pretty much agree on is:
- Being kind can help us feel happier.
One of the reasons is it’s so good for us is because it releases those feel good chemicals in the brain we often talk about at The Youth Fairy.
Dopamine is released when we are giving or receiving kindness, elevating feelings of pleasure, achievement and in turn can help to reduce anxiety and depression. In fact studies have shown that the reward centre of our brain is activated when we are kind – as if we were the recipient of the kind act.
- Being kind can benefit our relationships.
When we are kind to others (or even just thinking kind thoughts about others) we are essentially engaging in the 3ps:
- Positive Actions
- Positive Interactions
- Positive Thoughts
All of these release serotonin (happiness chemical) and other feel good endorphins in the brain – so we are going to benefit as well as the person we were kind to! Being kind to others also builds and strengthens relationships and creates stronger bonds and connection. And the release of serotonin also helps us feel calmer and is known to help alleviate feelings of depression.
- Being kind can help with physical pain.
Really, it can. Serotonin and endorphins are actually pretty effective pain killers – stronger than morphine in fact! They help to block pain so the more we are creating the more we can cope with that headache, backache or even chronic pain.
Another benefit of being kind…
- Being kind can slow the aging process!
In addition to dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, the act of being kind can cause us to generate oxytocin – and just as stress can speed up the signs of aging, so kindness (due to the oxytocin reducing free radicals) can slow down the signs of aging.
If you needed any more encouragement to be kind…
- Being kind is contagious.
When we are kind, we are encouraging the release of all these feel-good neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin) and we inspire others to carry out further acts of kindness.
So now you know why being kind feels so good we’d like to encourage you and your children to be even kinder on Saturday 13th November.
We never know the struggles that are others are facing, whether they are friends or strangers, so the moment of kindness that you bestow is sure to brighten their day – and, as it’s contagious, is likely to be far-reaching and have a knock on to others too!
The great thing about an act of kindness is that it doesn’t have to be big or really cost us much in time or money, but the effect may well be greater than we could ever imagine.
And if you’re stuck for ideas here are a few acts of kindness the Youth Fairies have engaged in recently:
Youth Fairy Sian:
“I was out having dinner for my birthday a few weeks ago and the service wasn’t great – the staff were really stressed as I think one of the pizza ovens must have gone down. Many of the other tables were being understandably a little grumpy but also really very rude which we could see was causing the staff to become even more under pressure and stressed. We decided we were going to be really kind and we made a conscious effort to thank the waiter and tell him we could see he was doing his best. I could literally see some of the stress release from him as he smiled and thanked us for making his shift a little more bearable.
They gave us £25 off our bill for being so kind and we gave some it back to the waiter as a tip!”
Youth Fairy Lisa:
“I was waiting in a parking bay at McDonalds, I noticed a very unhappy toddler refusing to keep her seatbelt on and a very stressed-out Dad. I offered them both a smile and the very snotty toddler a tissue – somehow that was enough to break their stale-mate until their order arrived. I also put a notes in my daughters’ lunch box – I know it makes her smile and even when she’s a teenager and pretends to be embarrassed, I’m still going to do it.”
Youth Fairy Katie:
“I love to find little opportunities, however small to help other people out if I can. Yesterday I offered to let someone with only a few items in their basket go in front of me in the supermarket queue. A few weeks ago the person in front of me in Costa couldn’t find their bank card after their order had been made so I offered to pay. Sometimes I like to set myself a challenge of smiling to as many people as I can in one day and notice all the smiles I get back. My brain definitely rewards me the more I do this – I can feel my mood lift and feel great.”
So, this World Kindness Day take the opportunity to actively spread some of that contagious, mood lifting kindness and notice how it make you and others around you feel.
We’d love to hear about the kindness you’ve bestowed or received to share in a follow up blog – so please do email us at email@example.com
“Have courage and be kind…where there is kindness, there is goodness and where there is goodness, there is magic” Cinderella