Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution. Kindness is a new superpower!
In a world where success, competition and showboating are admired, kindness can seem fairly uninteresting in comparison. It is rarely celebrated – or even recognized – in many instances. We might worry our acts of goodwill and benevolence are seen as weakness, yet kindness is a superpower. It has the ability not only to improve the lives of those we show it to, but to also make our own lives more fulfilled.
What it means to be kind, how to show compassion with strength, be successful yet soft?
KINDNESS WITH STRENGTH
Unfashionable and uncelebrated, it can often feel like kindness is a sign of weakness. It’s widely overlooked within society, yet we often need to be surprisingly tough-minded and determined to practice it. But could kindness be the secret superpower we are all looking for?
Kindness is a funny thing. In theory, we value it as a cardinal virtue. And when it comes to the minutiae of our everyday, small acts of thoughtfulness – be it a surprise cup of tea, a kind word – can help us transcend life’s briar patches. Not only that, such minor events tend to linger in our memory, helping us to feel that maybe life isn’t such a hostile place, for months, sometimes years, after they happened.
TAKING IT FOR GRANTED
But somehow, in a more general sense, kindness goes uncelebrated. Instead, it’s the cool, strong-willed types that we publicly admire.
Generosity has a weird reputation. We’re ambivalent about it. In general, society mocks the ‘do-gooder’ and, in practice, empathy gets less of our attention than shinier, more exciting qualities such as success, ambition, and discipline.
Altruism may well be lovely in theory, but it’s not something that many of us actually pay much attention to. We don’t hear kindness being discussed very much because it’s an unconscious habit. We take altruism for granted. There are so many everyday acts of altruism going on all around us and we never stop to consider how astonishing they really are. The only reason we don’t hear much about these everyday kind acts is because bad news sells.
Humans react much more strongly to negative stimuli than to positive. If something really upsets you, like the meanness of another person towards you, you’re going to discuss that at the end of the day, rather than talk about the person at work who displayed great friendliness towards you. We all need to make an effort to be kinder!
Pay attention to the small acts of everyday altruism going on around us. Why? Because altruism will not only make you happier, it will also make you a better human being, and create a better society overall.
• The kind acts activate the same synapses in the brain as eating chocolate or having sex.
• People, particularly older people, who engaged in volunteering programs saw a reduction in cellular ageing, depression and stress.
• Monks whose meditation focused on helping others had much lower depression scores and were generally more psychologically healthy than those monks who meditated only on the self.
• A person’s level of altruistic behavior depends on how altruistic our fellow humans are.