Kindness is an important trait, especially at the holidays

By Joy Hanna

Photo courtesy of Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash.

The holidays are a prime time for gift giving, spending time with loved ones, and eating delicious meals with family. For the last few months of the year, everywhere you turn, there are reminders to buy presents. Commercials and advertisements convincing you to buy presents, and even decorations of gifts abound. So, it is natural that many people equate giving gifts with the holiday spirit. However, the holiday spirit has its roots in kindness not just gift giving. Although generosity is important, it’s not the only characteristic of kindness.

Kindness is defined as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” But how many people actually practice all of these elements of kindness on a daily basis?

“Science has now shown that devoting resources to others, rather than having more and more for yourself, brings about lasting well-being. Kindness has been found by researchers to be the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Many colleges, including Harvard, are now emphasizing kindness on applications for admission.” Dr. Karyn Hall wrote for Psychology Today.

Despite the benefits and science telling us that kindness should be a natural part of our everyday lives, this is not often the case in our harsh and cruel world. 

In today’s world, we often fake our emotions and put on a mask to disguise ourselves because we are afraid of someone judging us. We walk through the world expecting judgement rather than kindness. But you could be that person who changes that with just a smile or a compliment. 

Unless you’re the Grinch (and even he saw the value of kindness in the end), the holidays mean something valuable to you, even if not in the traditional sense. This is the season of giving thanks, giving back, and spreading cheer. The holidays often bring out the best in us. But this sense of goodwill and cheer should be year round.

The strength of kindness is infinite and it goes a very long way, but the greatest advantage that comes with kindness is that it costs absolutely nothing, and it can make our community a happier and more fulfilling place to live. 

Kindness affects the recipient of the gift, compliment or even simple discussion, but it also affects the person who performs the act of kindness. Being kind helps people experience a sense of comfort and joy (no pun intended.

“The warm feeling of wellbeing following an act of kindness isn’t just in our head. It’s in our brain chemicals, too. Studies have indicated the benefits of kindness affecting both the giver and the receiver as it increases positive biochemical responses in humans,” according to Dr. Amra Rao of the British Psychological Society.

Our world is a very different place due to COVID, and with a little bit of love and support from the people you love, and the ones around you, you will learn to realize that there are some good people out there, especially with the holidays coming up.

One thing my grandma always says to me before she leaves is, “Kindness goes a long way.” This simple sentiment is such an important mantra because you can help make someone’s gloomy day into a sunny and happy one with just a little compliment, or even a smile, just to show them that they’re loved, because they might not be receiving that love from their own friends or family members.

The Dalai Lama said, “An honest concern for others is the key factor in improving our day to day lives. When you are warm-hearted, there is no room for anger, jealousy or insecurity. Healthy, happy families and a healthy peaceful nation are dependent on warm-heartedness.” 

Overall, the strength of kindness is infinite and it goes a very long way, but the greatest advantage that comes with kindness is that it costs absolutely nothing, and it can make our community a happier and more fulfilling place to live. 

Here are some ways to spread kindness:

  1. Really listen: Focus on the conversation rather than your to-do list. Instead of being preoccupied with your own thoughts, really listen to whomever you’re talking to.
  2. Show up: Whether it’s watching your friend’s volleyball game or joining your friend at a club they’re passionate about, supporting people is an important way of showing kindness.
  3. Assume positive intent: Giving people the benefit of the doubt goes a long way toward being kind. Whether someone cut you off on the freeway or bumped into in the lunch line, assume it was an accident or that they have somewhere important to be.
  4. Be inclusive: It’s great to have a close circle of friends, but try including someone who may be going through a rough patch or who seems to be sitting alone.
  5. Be openly appreciative: Tell the people around you how much you love them. Compliment the Starbucks barista on your morning coffee. Tell your teacher you enjoyed that lesson. 

If you’re feeling particularly generous, here are some ways to be generous to people outside your circle.

  1. Buy a coffee for the person behind you in line
  2. Buy food and necessities for homeless people
  3. Donate to a toy drive
  4. Send a card (or visit) to someone who’s sick or in a rest home.
  5. Smile at the people around you