How do you feel when you hear the word “kindness?” Most of us think of someone being nice. While this is absolutely true, there is a bit more to it. Kindness is a noun but more understandably, it is an action. Unlike most actions, kindness can be a physical action as well as a mental action.
When we dig a little deeper we realize that all kindness is rooted in a psychological act, regardless of what the end result is. While we are naturally compassionate individuals, not all actions are born from this place. Just as not all kind actions are seen in this way. Our point here…there is a lot to unpack! Here are 10 things to know about the psychology of kindness.
Kindness is a noun that can define us.
In simple terms, kindness is a quality. This quality represents friendliness, generosity, and consideration for the lives around us. We turn these qualities into an action when we do things for others that would be labeled as those qualities. For example, bringing soup to a friend who is stuck at home sick. This is being generous and caring. There are many qualities like this that for many, would be labeled as kindness. These may include:
- showing love
- being empathetic
- being a good listener
- being generous
- being giving
- being courteous and aware of others
- engaging in talking
- caring and nurturing for others.
Kindness is linked to psychology every day.
While we have all displayed acts of kindness, why do we do them? When you think about the last time you did something nice, what motivated you to do it? That is the link between kindness and psychology. While many of us show these qualities naturally, there is some sort of psychological motivation that urges us to be this way. It may be that we see someone in need of compassion. It may be that we see that someone is lonely and wants to socialize. It may even be that we want to feel better about ourselves so we reach outward. While kindness can be done for many different reasons, it’s safe to say that is a very common psychological activity.
Kindness can be learned.
Kindness is not a class in school, but it may be something that we learn. When we are young, we are what we see and what we are taught. Young children are encouraged to share, to use their words instead of violence, to listen to their elders, to socialize with her friends, etc. While this seems normal, it sets the ground work for being a kind person as we grow older. Kindness can be seen and shared when children learn to share how they’re feeling, ask for help, and look out for others.
The motivation behind being kind…
As we mentioned earlier, we are motivated to be kind. Psychologically we are urged to display kindness in a wide array of ways. Perhaps the best reason is that it makes us feel good! Being kind is beneficial for all parties involved. We can be kind to our family and friends, customers and clients at work, strangers on the street, anyone we pass by! Other than being kind because it feels good, it can also be something that is required of us. For example, you work a retail position at the mall. Customers are far more likely to return if they felt kindness from the staff. Kindness is so important!
When we are being unkind, we should look inward.
There are quite a few reasons why some may be unkind. Perhaps it is a reaction to be being treated poorly or maybe they are having a terrible day. Possibly there was a miscommunication. Often times, being unkind is a representation of where someone is at psychologically. Typically, when someone is being unkind, they are reacting to the anger that they are feeling within themselves. It can also be linked to someone feeling inadequate and lashing out in that way. When someone is being unkind, they may be struggling in their own way.
Secret to Life = Kindness.
Dating back to the beginning of most religions, kindness was the most common topic. Being kind makes you a good neighbor. Doing good deeds grants you access to heaven. Love, joy, peace, and patience are the root of faith. So on and so forth…kindness has always been seen as a sort of “secret guide to living.” While kindness doesn’t have to be linked to religion, it can be linked to a way of living. Spreading kindness can drastically improve someone’s quality of life, as well as the people they are sharing that kindness with.
Mental health and kindness have a close relationship.
There are many signs that point to the idea of mental health and kindness being friends. Whether it’s random acts of kindness, relationships, general social skills, or any other ways of displaying kindness, this promotes a positive mental state. This can be both for the person being kind and the person receiving the kindness. In general, increased kindness means increased happiness.
Sarah Tashjiian, a researcher from the California Institute of Technology, wrote an article titled “Does It Pay To Be Kind?” in 2018. Her goal was to share the benefits of kindness. Tashjiian claims that:
- Prosocial behaviors increase happiness and self-esteem
- Being kind improves how others see and accept you
- Kindness leads to reductions in risks for disease
- Neural networks related to reward fire when we’re kind, and when we see others experience kindness.
There physical benefits of kindness.
As we mentioned, kindness can have a positive impact on our mental health. It can also have a positive impact on our physical health. Being happier means less stress in our lives. Typically when we are happy and stress free, so are our bodies. For many people, a healthy mind means a healthy body. There is a long list of diseases and sicknesses that are directly correlated to our quality of life and mental health. Pretty crazy, right?
Kindness is a personality trait.
Who in your life would you refer to as “kind”? They’re probably pretty high up on the list of your favorite people. This is because when someone is kind, they make us feel good, welcome, and special. They help promote these feelings in their own ways.
While there are random acts of kindness and many ways to express kindness, being kind is something that is within us. When it comes to knowing about the psychology of kindness, this is one of the biggest things to know. Kindness is a personality trait. It is a part of our character and who we are psychologically speaking.
Being kind is the best way to make friends.
In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, there are so many benefits to being kind. The list goes on and on and on. One of the best results of kindness, though? Friends! Being kind opens up the pathway for friendships. When someone is being kind they are showing their best self, being social, listening to others, and wanting to extend a hand. When all of these things are out on the table, it becomes so easy to make friends. Regardless of if you are at work, at school, at a meeting, or in the grocery store, being kind may help you meet people that light up your life.