The Importance Of Being Kind

Since childhood I’ve always been taught that being kind to people is one of the nicest things you can do for them, even when you’re not treated the same. By nature, I’m a happy, optimistic, even an idealistic person – and many times have been told that it’s a bit unwise to be that way, because some people may take advantage of you. However, I’ve always chosen to look on the bright side and see the good in people, because not only it made me feel better, but it seemed to make people feel good about themselves, as well.

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou

Most of us nowadays are leading busy lives in very competitive environments, making it easy to get caught up in the midst of the events and completely forget about kindness. Moreover, it seems that kindness has become so rare nowadays that when someone is being kind to us we may start wondering about their ulterior motives. So why aren’t we all kind to each other, why do we seem to have forgotten how to treat one another in a humane way? No matter how many answers I’d try to come up with, in the end it all comes down to this:

How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves. ~ Paul Coelho

There’s an old Cherokee tale on this topic in which a grandfather was teaching life principles to his grandson – and I’d like to share it with you:

KindnessThe wise old Cherokee said: “Son, on the inside of every person there’s a constant battle raging between two wolves. One wolf is evil. It’s angry, jealous, unforgiving, proud, and lazy. The other wolf is good. It’s filled with love, kindness, humility, and encouragement. These two wolves are constantly fighting.”

The little boy thought about it and said: “Grandfather, which wolf is going to win?”

The grandfather smiled and said: “Whichever you feed the most!”

So we could say that kindness relates directly to happiness. Therefore, one of the reasons people are unkind becomes pretty obvious: they are not happy. You may have heard the saying “money can’t buy happiness”, which I tend to agree. In my opinion, money can only buy us things that can help increase our standard of living, but that doesn’t necessarily make us happy – as in the end, happiness is a state of mind and a choice. 

I’ve recently found an interesting concept stating that money CAN buy happiness – and was quite curious to hear the arguments, as I’m always open to see things from a new perspective even if it’s different than mine. The idea was presented by Michael Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School, and would like to invite you to watch the short presentation below:

The conclusion of his experiment was that we become happier when we shift our money spending habits – meaning that giving money away makes us happier than keeping it for ourselves. What I would argue, though, is that giving away money itself is NOT the main reason for being happier – in this case, money was merely the tool used in the experiment.

By analyzing the underlying factor, I realized that what makes us happier is the feeling of contentment that we get from making other people happy, regardless of the tool used for this purpose. I’m convinced that if we take money out of the equation and repeat the experiment, the conclusion will be the same – and this has been partially proved already by stating that the amount of money offered didn’t matter at all, it was the act of giving that has made the difference.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. ~ Lao Tzu

Being kind to others strengthens our connections with them and provides a source of support. Research also shows that we may benefit from giving support more than those receiving it – and we’re also more likely to get support in return when we need it. This may not even come from the same person, but being kind to others builds a wider support network which increases our overall well-being.

At the end of the day, choose to be kind to yourself and others. Remember that whenever someone is unkind to you, that’s about them, and not you. Keep in mind that what goes around comes around and you receive what you offer, so always choose to be kind!

To do more for the world than the world does for you – that is success. ~ Henry Ford

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