How do we define “kindness”?

By our Arts Therapist, Dafni

Today is World Kindness Day, but how does one start looking at what kindness is – how do we define it or describe it?

At dictionary.com it is defined as “The state or quality of being kind”. Personally, I don’t think this is very helpful. It leads me to wonder what does it mean to be “kind”, and what are the qualities that enable kindness to come about?

We could use lots of words to describe someone who is kind: considerate, giving, affectionate, altruistic, amicable, charitable, compassionate, friendly, humane, loving…the list goes on. It seems however that all of these words carry a different quality.

Kindness can be taught, and can have a domino affect on others. The more self-aware you are, the more you can empathise with others and acknowledge the differences and difficulties that not only you face, but others face. With more appreciate and gratitude, the more understanding you gain of what is “right”, and by extension you become kinder.

Biologically, it triggers parts of the brain associated with positive emotions, pleasure, and creates similar effects to that of exercise.

Psychologically, it falls under the umbrella of Positive Psychology, where one is encouraged to look at positive characteristics and behaviours.

Why don’t you try a little experiment of yourself?

  • Notice when you feel kindness towards someone – it could be a friend, a colleague or even a stranger
  • Do one act of kindness (it can be as small or as little as you like), such as:
    • Give a compliment to someone
    • Help a friend
    • Call a friend who may be down
    • Write a surprise note to someone
    • Thank someone for something – it can be via a hand written letter, a simple post-it note, or card
    • Create a drawing for someone
    • Write an affirmation for someone
    • Write a list of things you are grateful for

Bibliography:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_kindness_really_its_own_reward

https://www.nicabm.com/brain-science-of-altruism/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/positive-psychology-in-the-classroom/201302/the-positive-psychology-kindness

Altruistic behavior: mapping responses in the brain.

 

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