Be Kinder Than Is Necessary

Kind • ness


1. The quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.

Synonyms affection, warmth, gentleness, concern

We are genetically wired to be kind. Kindness is in our nature. Human beings have survived as a species because we have evolved the capacities to care for those in need and to cooperate. Kind behavior was necessary for survival. In his theories, Charles Darwin mentions survival of the fittest twice, and benevolence 99 times. He argues that our tendencies toward sympathy are instinctual and not cultural constructs, like we often think.

Today, we are often not as conscious and deliberate about being kind. Yet research shows that kindness has many benefits, both physically and mentally. Kindness benefits the heart. Oxytocin is produced through emotional warmth, which kindness delivers. Oxycotin dilates the arteries, reducing blood pressure, and clears them of free radicals and inflammation, the precursors to heart disease. It is a “cardio protective” hormone. Kindness also reduces aging, and studies have shown a strong link to the activities of the vagus nerve, which in addition to regulating heart rate, controls inflammation in the body.

As you might suspect, kindness makes us happier. Many people feel that it is the right thing to do, and so it taps into something profound inside of us. We feel good because we are being our Best Self. And, if we are feeling good about ourselves, we have better relationships. Kindness reduces the emotional distance between people so we feel more bonded. Most of us will remember the people that have been most kind to us. New relationships are forged and old ones strengthened through kindness.

How to be Kind

There are many ways to be kind. We can make a deliberate attempt to brighten another person’s day by doing something thoughtful. One small gesture can make a person’s day and change their mood, as well as your own! Specifically, we can ask ourselves before we act or speak, “Is this Kind?” and use this question as a guide. Below are some suggestions for making a more kindhearted world.

  • Say a warm hello to the person next to you in the elevator.
  • Make someone laugh.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Give a compliment, don’t just think it, say it.
  • Take a minute to direct someone who is lost, even if you are in a rush.
  • Pick up a piece of trash.
  • Leave a generous tip for a good waiter.
  • Say “I love you” to someone.
  • Buy someone flowers for no reason at all.
  • Make a helpful introduction.
  • Tell someone the truth.
  • Let another car merge in front of you, or let a pedestrian cross the street.
  • Be present.
  • Listen. Don’t interrupt. We underestimate how important and comforting it is to be listened to.
  • Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
  • Allow someone to help you. Let that person enjoy performing an act of kindness.
  • Pass along a great book that you have just read.
  • Pay it forward.

Your challenge is to perform as many kind deeds as you can. Remember: kindness begets kindness. It creates a ripple effect.