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The Importance of Being Kind

In the midst of emotions, of trying to be cool, of societal conventions, of life in general working its strange illusions - we can get very lost and forget the simple act of being kind.

Kurt Vonnegut in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater uttered a line that defined an important habit to have in life.

There’s only one rule that I know of…God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

And why is that? Well, let’s dive into the importance of being kind with a little science, a little examination on the way people work, and a little inspiration.

1. We are attracted to those who are kind.

Researcher Kristin Layous and her colleagues conducted a study examining popularity in kids. Studying over 400 students, they gave each of them the task to perform three acts of kindness or to visit three new places in the span of a few weeks. The results returned saying that all the kids participating in this study reported to be happier than they were before. But the kids who chose to perform acts of kindness, were twice as well-liked by their peers than others.

These kind kids that are well-liked were then studied to shown to be less likely to bully and more likely to do nice things for others. They’ve developed pro-social behaviors and became more well-liked unintentionally through kindness. Kindness brings people closer to you. And it makes them like you.

Forget cologne or perfume, spray some kindness onto yourself.

2. Happiness is a product of kindness.

Michael Norton, Professor at Harvard Business School (with a Ph.D. from Princeton…gees), conducted a social experiment where he gave people an envelope with money. Some had $5 in it, and some had $20. There were two different directions being given. Some people were told to spend the money on themselves, while others were told to spend it on somebody else. Here are his findings:

  • 1. People who spent money on other people got happier.
  • 2. People who spent money on themselves had no effect on their mood.
  • 3. The amount of money didn’t matter.

You think $20 would be better than $5, but what really mattered is that they spent it on somebody else rather than on themselves. Norton went on to conducting the same experiment in Canada, Uganda, Belgium, and more. And everywhere he looked, it became very apparent that giving money away makes you happier than keeping it for yourself.

It became very apparent that everywhere, kindness is a better and happier option.

3. Kindness is a cure.

Our longings and our worries have really to some degree been overblown. We stress over the smallest things and drown ourselves in unnecessary anxieties. But take this advice from Lauren E. Miller, a woman who’s experienced 16 chemos, 12 surgeries, 1 year of herceptin infusions, 6 weeks of daily radiation and a divorce all under 2 years. She said that with the practice of kindness, “you end up feeling safe and connected to that which is good and true in the world and the result is inner calm, clarity of thinking and a heart full of love.”

Can you imagine all the kinds of stress that Lauren had gone through? But what she chose instead was to give back to the world when the world was seemingly taking away from her.

I admit that creating a habit of being kind is a difficult thing to do because there are so many internal and external factors working against us all the time. But everything begins with a little practice. Being kind doesn’t always mean giving away something, or sacrificing tons. Being kind can be achieved through understanding and forgiveness, or the willingness to listen. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

Kindness is a cure. Just be sure to select it as your form of treatment.

Let Me Tell You About Valentine’s Day

When the clock turned 12AM today I thought, “Great, how am I going to live through this treacherous day filled with cheesy couples and unnecessary commentaries from bitter singles?”

A few hours before this, I went through an emotional roller coaster where an hour I was missing being in a relationship, where another hour I was on a “screw it, single life forever” rampage, and then another hour where I starred at my Facebook feed with literally zero thoughts in my mind. I pretty much blanked out.

You know why? Because Valentine’s Day is confusing and it sucks. Because people expect things that they don’t get on a daily basis. Because people are now obligated to provide things that they don’t give on a daily basis. Because, well, because, because, because, because…

Because to be honest, there’s really nothing wrong with Valentine’s Day.

Mind f*ck.
Where are you going with this?

Alright, let me explain. At the end of the day, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually really kind of a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Remember in elementary school when we were handed brown paper bags on Valentine’s Day? You and your classmates would go around passing out Valentines cards to each other. Boop, goes one in your bag. Boop, goes another in someone else’s bag. Boop. Boop. Boop. It was awesome. Everyone got something that day and the room was filled with love and tiny fulfilled hearts.

And then we grew up. And then things started changing. Our estrogen level blew up and we started letting our dicks talk. All of a sudden we started celebrating Valentine’s Day with the idea that it’s only for people with a significant other. That it’s only for people in a relationship. That it’s only for people who are dating. So much that some people even call today Single Awareness Day.

Wait, what happened?

What happened to when Valentine’s Day was about everyone getting loved? What happened to ensuring that everyone was getting a little piece of heartwarming encouragement? What happened to the kind of excitement you had for Valentine’s Day as a little kid clenching onto your brown paper bag? I guess we grew up. And I guess we forgot.

So here’s a reminder. To all the singles and all the couples, to all the moody Valentine’s downers and all the avid Valentine’s supporters:

Celebrate this Valentine’s Day with everyone you love.

Your friends, the ones who are probably sitting next to you right now.
Your parents, who would die to receive a call from you expressing how much you love them.
Yourself, who honestly, should be the one you love the most.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I hope your brown paper bag gets filled.