You know the type: always brimming over with kindness and good will. Never without a smile on his face. Never without a hug for her neighbor – or even a total stranger.
The people who skip through life with optimism and carefree sunshine glowing from their pores. This is often the type I envy.
We don’t have to envy kindness though. It’s not necessarily a genetic disposition. It’s a choice. Every single one of us can choose to be kind. And here are seven ways that doing so can make us happier human beings.
1. Being Kind Puts a Smile on Everyone’s Face
The natural reaction to kindness is a smile. And when someone smiles, it’s contagious. Do a kindness unto others with a genuine smile on your face, and soon the whole world will smile with you.
2. It Melts Away Stress
Think of how you feel inside when you go about your day without interacting with anyone, without touching another person’s life in a positive way.
Now, think about the day you bought your colleague a Starbucks, or held the door open for an old man, or went above and beyond for a friend.
I can guarantee your stress tightened on the day you weren’t particularly kind. On the other hand, stress unwinds when you are. So get rid of that stress ball, and do some good deeds, instead.
3. You Like Yourself When You’re Kind
Not only do you reduce stress with kindness, you get a bit of an ego-boost too. Maybe that sounds a little selfish, but Joey (from FRIENDS) was right: there is no selfless good deed.
Kindness is not selfless. You build your self-esteem, self-worth, and values each time you go out of your way to be kind.
But feeling better about who you are is never a bad thing. In fact, doing some good in the world makes you valuable.
4. It’s Better to Give Than to Receive
Sometimes we get bogged down in selfishness. We expect so much out of our partners, our family, our friends, and everyone we come into contact with. Take, take, take. But we forget to give back.
Be a giver, instead of a receiver. You never know when you might be in need, and your karma bank should be full when you are.
5. Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last
Kindness is charismatic. When you’re trying to get ahead in work and in life, consider compassion and empathy as positive emotions to channel, instead of channeling other more egocentric emotions. Doing so might just feed your success, as kindness makes you more of a team player and others will want to work with you for it.
As Berkeley Professor Dacher Keltner told ABC News, “People trust you more, they have better interactions with you, you even get paid better.”
Don’t ever believe you’ll “finish last” just because you were kind.
6. It Keeps You Young
When you are kind, you have a support community, you have a happy heart, and you have a lower biological age. All of these things keep you young.
Not to mention that smiling wrinkles are much more youthful and attractive than scowly ones.
7. Kindness is a Social Stimulant: It’s Science
Kindness has been scientifically proven to make you happy. Research across the scientific literature that’s been done on the link between kindness and happiness confirmed the existence of just such a link.
The research lead author, Dr. Oliver Scott Curry of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford, said: “Humans are social animals. We are happy to help family, friends, colleagues, community members and even strangers under some conditions. This research suggests that people do indeed derive satisfaction from helping others. This is probably because we genuinely care about others’ welfare, and because random acts of kindness are a good way of making new friends, and kick-starting supportive social relationships.”