Why should we be kinder to others?
“Kindness” announced as new theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, in response to coronavirus outbreak
Mental Health Awareness week is organised each year by the Mental Health Foundation and, in response to the coronavirus outbreak, they’ve announced “Kindness” as the theme for this year. The date for this year’s Mental Health Awareness week is 18th-24th May and is a moment for the UK to focus on mental health. Hence this post, Why should we be kinder to others.
What is kindness?
Various dictionaries suggest that Kindness: “is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate” or “is the quality of being gentle, caring, and helpful.”
Affection, gentleness, warmth, concern, and care are words that are associated with kindness. While kindness has a connotation of meaning someone is naive or weak, that is not the case. Being kind often requires courage and strength. Kindness is an interpersonal skill, Hall, 2017.
Why we should be kinder to others
Research shows that people who are kind and compassionate are more satisfied with their own lives, have better mental and physical health, and have healthier relationships. Being kind helps others, and make you feel good too.
However, before you rush around being kind to everyone, picking up more toilet rolls for your elderly neighbours, making cakes to put in kids’ packed lunches or knitting scarves and making masks for the homeless during COVID-19, there’s something very important you have to do first. And that, as clichéd as it sounds, is to be kind to yourself.
Having been kind to ourselves, we can now show kindness to others, do go deeds and look out for our fellow-human beings, during this unprecedented time. It’s a great time to step up, connect or reach out, where we can do so safely, to try to make our world a better place as we emerge from this pandemic.
Mental Health Awareness Week
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Now more than ever, we need to re-discover kindness in our daily lives.
“We want to use Mental Health Awareness Week to celebrate the thousands of acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health.
“Kindness unlocks our shared humanity and is central for our mental health. It has the potential to bring us together with benefits for everyone, particularly at times of great stress.”
What is an act of kindness
An act of kindness is a spontaneous gesture of goodwill towards someone or something such as an animal, our fellow-man and the world around us.
We don’t have to make huge gestures like buying flowers or gifts. Simply refraining from things like picking fault, backstabbing or being judgemental is also an act of kindness.
While you might not be aware, you probably carry out lots acts of kindness each day i.e. smiling or holding doors, greeting colleagues or friends in a warm and friendly way and saying please, thank you or excuse me, even by telephone.
I love acts of kindness and the joy it brings. As a mental health nurse I really enjoyed greeting 20-28 patients each morning and always looked for something different to say to each of them — anything from complementing their hair, eyes, dress, tie or even for making the effort to get out of bed, to look after their self-care or for getting someone else’s breakfast for them. A simple smile or a sheepish grin in return from a patient would brighten my day and always remind me why I became a nurse.
When my sons were small they thought kindness was giving to the poor and who knows how many times they tried to make me stop at every beggar in the street. They also loved Christmas Day when we’d go down to London Embank where lots of homeless people slept under the bridge and we’d take huge trays of leftover lunches and desserts. The first time they came with us, they were amazed to see the recipients call out to all the others to share the food — I think it was then, they understood what kindness was.
What to do when you don’t feel like being kind
Of course there’s times when we’re not being particularly kind to ourselves so we certainly don’t feel like being kind to others. Some of that might come from our own crappy feelings of say hurt, disappointment, anger, sadness, hopelessness or worthlessness. What you can do when you feel this this is:
Acknowledge when you don’t feel like being kind. If you want to be unkind because you feel sad or you’ve been hurt, acknowledge that part of you that feels hurt and try being kind to yourself. When you’re ready, which generally doesn’t take long, when you see someone else in need, go and be kind.
If it’s too late and you’ve already been unkind, try to learn from it and how you felt afterwards. Did it ease your own hurt? Probably not and it might have added to your already rotten feeling. You could also apologise “I’m sorry. Yes, I was cross about what you said, but I shouldn’t have said what I did.”
Put yourself in another person’s shoes. We all know how we’ve felt when we’ve been in need and how much we’d appreciate it if someone stopped to help us.
Think of another person’s happiness. Many a time, we’ve been unkind because we’re being selfish, we can’t be bothered or we’re miserable. But helping that little old lady struggling through the high winds to get to the other side of the street will make her feel safe and happy. And we’ll feel happier, perhaps only momentarily but hey, I’ll take that.
We know what it feels like when we’ve carried out a good deed or an act of kindness for someone, and if we all just practiced this a bit more…….
You certainly don’t need me to tell you how you can be kind or what kind of good deeds you can carry out. So, how about you tell me – how do you feel when you’ve done a good deed? Do you get days when you don’t feel like being kind? I look forward to your comments and I’m happy to answer any questions.
58 thoughts on “Why should we be kinder to others?”
Thanks for sharing, that’s very kind of your 🙂
Practicing (self)-kindness is the most important thing you can do. When you open your heart, it’s easy, it comes naturally. I love that kindness is the theme this year of mental health week.
Yes, like the self-compassion we spoke of recently 🙂 x
That’s such a good point about being kind to ourselves first. I suspect a fair number of people don’t think they’re deserving of that, but like you said, self-kindness allows us to go out and be kind to others.
Thank you ashley.
Yes, I always remeber thinking to myself that in order to be kind to others, my sons included, I needed to be kind to myself.
It cannot be stressed enough that kindness to oneself is of great importance. It was just a few hours ago I saw a video where Warren Buffett said ‘We are our biggest investments and receive the greatest returns.
This is such a beautiful post :’)
Aaww, thank you Anya. Yes, we often forget about ourselves and that’s a great quote.I often say to my sons’ friends who are considering therapy “You are investing in your future and you’ll reap the rewards” Not far off 😉 x
Not far off indeed. You’re very wise to have said that to your son’s friends and believe it too.
Stay safe :’)
Agreed. I wonder if trying to be kind to others while being unkind to ourselves can lead to resentment?
I would guess so.
Mmmm, if I look back, now I realise that yes, it did cause some resentment – more when other people sometimes abused my kindness 🙁
Yeah, I can see how that would happen. My husband was the first person to say to me, “I hate it when kindness is mistaken for weakness.”
Smart man, your husband 😉 x
Hi Sadie, I’ve nominated you for an Award, look out for my next post 🙂 Caz x
Caz!!! You’re so sweet! Thank you 🤩😍
You deserve it 🙂 x
Whoa, whoa, whoa, some of your patients wore ties ???
Yes, if they were going for their tribunal, some would lol. And obviously they only had access to ties if they weren’t at risk of suicide 🙂
Excellent post. I bet your sons learned a lot when they were growing up because of your experiences and the experiences you allowed them to have like when you took them to the Embankment for Christmas. Excellent point about self-care and being kind to yourself as well, and some excellent kindness suggestions. I find empathy (as you say with putting yourself in someone else’s shoes) can make a huge difference. A little kindness can go a long way..
Stay safe lovely xx
Thank you Caz. The boys used to love coming to visit me at work, once they got over their fears. Yes, you’re right cos kindness costs nothing. x
I feel pretty good when I’ve done a good deed, and there are definitely “moments” when I am more inclined to just complain (vs. being kind).
I was now checking out your blog and soon found out that you have an amazing impact on the other bloggers. You have good..no.. brilliant concepts.
Aaahh, thank you for your kind words 🙂 Much appreciated. Caz x
I used to be extremely focused on being kind to others…never realizing that I wasn’t being kind to myself at all.
It can also sometimes be really hard to be kind when I’m in a slump. But often, it makes me feel way better to focus on someone else for a change.
I get that too. I think lots of made that mistake. I was the original ‘people pleaser’, always looking out for others. Yet did any of them see me or hear me when I was ‘drowning’.
I know what you’re saying by focussing on others for a change, but you come first. Every single time – you look after you my lovely 🙂 xx
This is such an amazing post! Hope you’re safe, and thank you for sharing with us 🙂
Glad you like it – thank you. Yes, all’s well with me and mine as I hope it is with you and yours 🙂 Caz x
You’re welcome 🙂
Hi Kitty, you might have noticed, I’ve just nominated you for an award – so look out for it. I’m so looking forward to reading your answers 🙂 Caz x
Yes, I’ve just read it. Thank you for the kind nomination 🙂
You’re welcome x
I think the key with kindness is that you need to secure yourself first in order to provide an anchor for others. If we get into a fearful pattern, rather than being kind to ourselves we get into the more-more-more mentality that makes us lash out from insecurity and yet leaves us empty. If we are able to be kind enough to ourselves that we can relax, however, it’s much easier to be kind to others and to enjoy extending that kindness.
I agree totally. I know when I was unhappy after the breakdown of my relationship and I wasn’t being kind to myself – I actually took it out on a new and younger colleague, who’d done nothing other than cruch loudly on big fat green apples, several times each day. I got up one day with the intent of shoving her big fat apple in her big fat mouth — fortunately, I walked right past to the ladies room where I broke down. That poor girl, honestly I just nipped at her daily for weeks. I truly was unkind and after I broke down and apologised to her, she forgave me. It makes me cringe even now! Caz x
Yes, when we’re in pain, we tend to try to spread it around as if that will reduce the amount we’re dealing with. But neither pain nor kindness is a finite resource. They’re like fire. If you light a new flame, the original one keeps burning.
Mmm, I learned from it and I’ll never forget how badly I treated someone else 🙁
Hey … I really like your blog and as I have said before, you are truly motivating.
So I have nominated you for the awesome Blogger award.
Do check out my new post for it.
Aaawww, honestly, that’s so kind of you. Whoop, whoop 🙂
Yes, we should all make it a point to be kind to others every day. I’ve nominated you for an award. Please check my blog for more information!❤️
Aaww, that’s so kind of you, much appreciated 🙂 Caz x
No problem, Caz!❤️
I loved the little story you shared about your sons on Christmas Day. That’s a type of kindness I struggle with, not because I don’t want to show up and be generous to others with leftover food, but because I worry about how it will be received, where to go, when to go, and all the little details that don’t matter. So I tend to avoid big gestures like that, and opt for smaller acts of kindness like the ones you described earlier in the post. 🙂
It’s funny how everyone sees different things isn’t it? I thought that taking the food down was a small gesture. Obviously, we made it look nice, on a fresh tray with paper plates and cutlery – I didn’t want to offend them. We’d do it each year, and the sad thing was that we’d see the same people year after year 🙁 Thanks for your comments Sadie. Caz x
My pleasure, Caz, and I appreciate your replies! I really think it’s wonderful that you did that with the extra food, even though I know that wasn’t the focus of your post and you weren’t looking for credit or anything. 😊😊
Thanks Sadie x
I think kindness is just so important especially right now with everything going on. Really great post!
Thanks Pooja and yes, now’s a great time to start 🙂 x
I think being kind to ourselves first and foremost is key. we cant be kind to others unless we know how to be kind to ourselves. xoxo
Definitely Carol Anne 🙂 x
I love this theme of kindness! Yout post is great especially the end where you write about what to do if you want to or have been unkind. You’re exploring why one might want to be and how to change it with no judgements…
I feel like most people want to be kind and can be if we expect that of them. I was on a train and one person was unkind (about the seat I saved for my special needs sister). Everyone else around who heard or saw was so nice to me and tried to get me somewhere else (I needed 3 and had 2 because she took one).
Love, light and glitter
Thank you Eliza. We’ve all (well most of us) been unkind at times 🙁 That was awful, someone not giving up their seat for your sister!! I hope they felt ashamed of themself when they got home!
I’m sure they didn’t. I kept the 2 seats for my sister and mother and had to find a third for myself elsewhere. Which I didn’t mind as much as was hurt and was in tears.
I actually viewed it as they were in pain and protecting their perceived need so couldn’t look at what they were doing. Most people don’t intend to be mean… I was in tears, but at the same time knew it was nothing personal but about her.
You’re very kind and considerate lol – I might have bit back 🙁 x
You made an excellent point that we should be kind to ourselves first. I worked in community mental health while keeping my own diagnosis a secret. It was obvious that many of my colleagues, including chain smoking psychiatrists, were keeping similar secrets. I found that the mental health community, however, was particularly unkind to those with a diagnosis, whether a client or a colleague. This may have changed in recent years but I am able to be much more open in a different field of work in a different country.
Oh that’s a shame that you had to keep your illness a secret Kerry 🙁 Our Trust was great at looking after its own staff, thankfully.
That’s interesting, another country and field of work where you can be more open. 🙂 Caz x
I think time has been part of the equation. People have greater understanding of how widespread mental ill health is.
I think we’re getting there – there’s certainly a change 🙂