To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world.”
Lately, every time I mention to a stranger the ages of my grandchildren (5 years - 5 months) and how much I love them and their ages, they have all been saying - oh , just wait and they won't be so cute when they're teenagers. Seriously, like I don't know what teenage years are like? As hard as teenage years may or may not have been, my kids were always kind human beings!
I try not to watch too much of the news; however, when I do watch it often times there are stories about kids that lack integrity, respect and are unkind to each other. How do we change that so the world is a better place for our kids/grandkids to grow up in?
What exactly is kindness, the health benefits and how can we pass values on to the next generation that we all know to be beneficial to raising good human beings and not entitled ones?
Kindness is a quality of being. The act of giving kindness is simple, free, positive and healthy
Kindness is choosing to do something that helps others or yourself, motivated by genuine feelings
Kindness, or doing good, often means putting other people’s needs before our own. It could be as easy as giving up our seat on a bus to someone who might need it more, or volunteering at a food bank
Kindness is more than behavior. The art of kindness means harboring a spirit of helpfulness, as well as being generous and considerate, and doing so without expecting anything in return
Evidence shows that helping others can also benefit our own mental health and well being. (taken from Mayoclinichealthysystem.org and parents-together.org)
Good for the body - Kindness has been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy and compassion, and improve mood. It can decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone, which directly impacts stress levels. People who give of themselves in a balanced way also tend to be healthier and live longer.
Kindness can increase your sense of connectivity with others, which can directly impact loneliness, improve low moods and enhance relationships in general. It also can be contagious. Looking for ways to show kindness can give you a focus activity, especially if you tend to be anxious or stressed.
Good for the mind - Physiologically, kindness can positively change your brain. Being kind boosts serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being, and cause the pleasure/reward centers in your brain to light up. Endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain killer, also can be released.
Be kind to yourself - It is not just how you treat other people — it is how you extend those same behaviors and intentions to yourself as well. I believe you can be kinder in your own self-talk and practice gratitude. Before I get up out of bed in the morning, I always thank God for all of my blessings.
People are good at verbally beating themselves up, and rarely does that work as a pep talk. Rather, negativity often causes you to unravel and may even create a vicious cycle of regularly getting down on yourself. You wouldn't talk to your neighbor the way you sometimes talk to yourself. So use the “good neighbor policy,” which can be helpful. If you would not say it to your good neighbor, do not say it about yourself.
Take action - Simply asking "How am I going to practice kindness today?" can be helpful. This positive focus is like planting positive seeds in your mind garden. Where focus goes, energy flows.
Here’s a look at 11 simple acts of kindness appropriate for kids of all ages—because there’s never a better time to start than right now.
Hold the door open for someone.
Volunteer to clear the table after dinner, pick up toys—any chore completed without being asked is a win.
Leave a few coins behind in a vending machine for the next person.
Corral the grocery carts scattered throughout the parking lot of your favorite grocer.
Rake a neighbor’s leaves or shovel their driveway.
Make a get well card for a sick friend or family member.
Write a thank-you note to the teacher who stayed after school a few extra minutes to help you.
Compliment a stranger’s hairstyle or smile.
Ask for donations to a favorite charity instead of birthday gifts.
Invite someone sitting alone to have lunch with you.
Let someone go ahead of you in the lunch line.
I regularly see posts on social media about individuals picking up the food tab at a restaurant for a police officer or firemen and writing on their bill "thanks for your service". I love that idea!
Kindness boosts mood - Plenty of research has found that showing kindness—whether to ourselves, a loved one, or a stranger—can boost happiness, and the more random acts of kindness you perform, the happier you are, according to at least one study. In fact, even simply witnessing kindness around us has been shown to enhance mood. Now even more recent research has found that it’s not just the act of being kind that has benefits, simply recalling the past acts later is enough to boost well-being, too. It's a win - win for your well being!
Kindness helps social/emotional development - Being kind makes kids feel connected to others, and reinforces concepts like empathy and compassion.
Kindness improves academic performance - According to the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley, “High-quality service learning programs, where students complement their classroom learning with real-world community service, improve academic performance and make students feel more connected to their school.”
So, by now, I'm sure we can all clearly see that being kind is a value to pass along to our grandchildren. I recently came across this website randomactsofkindness.org. It caught my eye initially because on their homepage I saw there is a random acts of kindness day? Who knew? A day that we can model for our younger generations what exactly it is to be kind.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has free downloads and resources to help us teach our younger generations six core values:
Respect - treating people, places and things with kindness
Caring - feeling and showing concern for others
Inclusiveness - including others, inviting them in and welcoming them with open arms
Integrity - acting in a way you know to be right and kind in all situations
Responsibility - being reliable to do the things you are expected or required of you
Courage - being brave when facing new or difficult circumstances
Wow!! Imagine if every child from Pre-K to high school learned these values about kindness? What a better place this world would be - making kindness the "norm".
There are downloads such as coloring pages, journals, teaching materials, posters, etc. that parents, grandparents, co-workers or teachers can use as resources. All of these downloads are free. There is also a suggested book list about kindness for kindergartners all the way up to young readers to adults. Here's the link to that list.
Back to Random Acts of Kindness Day, which is this Friday, February 17th - How are you going to model kindness on that day and how will you encourage your kids, grandkids, students and co-workers to do that as well?
Let's team up together to make this world a better place!
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Have courage and be kind. Where there is kindness there is goodness, and where there is goodness there is magic.”
- Disney’s Cinderella