Love is more than a feeling, and it starts with kindness. Here are 10 truths about kindness and some ways we’re seeing it more than ever.
Have you ever paid attention to how often and how frivolously we use the word, “love”?
“I love chocolate.”
“I love this sweater!”
“My kids love Lucky Charms.”
“I love having Moscato with my dinner!”
And somehow we are able to use that same word with deeper sentiments such as:
“I love when my kids give me a big hug!”
“I love my husband so much.”
“My sister and I love to spend time with our mother.”
If you’re anything like me, you probably agree that the word, “love” is simply overused.
You may even believe that it has lost its value. Perhaps, our standards of giving and receiving love have lowered due to the lack of substance of the word. In fact, these days, simply hearing the word can make you believe something that isn’t real. Can you love a friend, like you love chocolate? I’m sure you’re quick to say, “No way, it’s two different things!” But let’s pause for a moment.
Loving chocolate is easy. It tastes good.
It serves you when you are craving something sweet and it makes you smile. A friend can do the same thing. If your friend is easygoing, she is always present and ready to help, and her sense of humor often has you slapping your knee with laughter, what is there not to love? That is, of course, when she’s having a bad day. What does love look like when it’s not easy? The only deciding factor is kindness. How easy is it to love someone when loving them reminds us of the taste of chocolate?
With that in mind, here are 10 truths about kindness:
10 Truths About Kindness
1. The truth is that the feeling of love is great, but kindness speaks much louder.
Ashley Reale, founder of Share Love Everywhere, knows all about this. She challenges her Instagram followers by asking, “What if we made it easy to share the love with others; even (especially) perfect strangers?” In 2009, Reale started a movement of spreading kindness through encouraging notes. Since 2014, over 27,000 notes have been distributed globally. It’s the human-centeredness and simple concept that makes Share Love Everywhere an effective and impactful initiative. Who wouldn’t want to be an ambassador, spreading kindness with such thoughtful notes!
2. Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
Words that are associated with kindness are affection, gentleness, warmth, concern, and care. According to Dr. Karyn Hall, author of the article, “The Importance of Kindness” in Psychology Today, “Being kind often requires courage and strength.” And we all know that the feeling of love is just the beginning.
3. To truly love is not for the faint of heart.
Loving well is having the courage and strength to be kind in some of the most difficult aspects of relationships. Dr. Hall also shares that kindness has been found by researchers to be the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. You can tell me you love me all day, but the only way I will actually believe it is if I experience kindness. I can imagine that the same goes for when we tell others that we love them.
4. We have to ask ourselves, “Do I practice kindness in this relationship?”
The beautiful thing about this is that practicing kindness looks different for everyone and every situation but you know when you’re on the receiving end of kindness when you’re experiencing intentionality and care. Kindness is important because it’s what actually informs you that the love you feel is real.
5. Kindness starts with being kind to yourself.
And the best place to start is with you. In an era where self-care is the craze, we often think of pampering ourselves. While this is great, it’s temporary, and the good news is that self-care doesn’t have to be. In fact, it should be long-term and ongoing. Kindness is also about how you speak to yourself and the boundaries you keep. By loving yourself, with kindness at the forefront, you are more equipped to be kind to others.
6. We are social beings, created to connect.
There’s just something about kindness that makes the world feel smaller as if somehow we are all family and there is enough love to go around. Many of us have that memory of our first friend in elementary school who decided to invite us to eat lunch together. Maybe it was a stranger in the grocery store parking lot who handed you the next available cart instead of grabbing it quickly to start on his or her grocery list. These actions connect us with one another and make us feel safe.
Illustration of Jack McBrayer bySteph Hagen
7. Kindness must be passed to the next generation.
Jack McBrayer, actor and now TV producer, wants to make sure that these acts of kindness never diminish as time goes on. In an interview with the New York Post, he said, “I was noticing in the world how grownups were behaving around each other and greeting each other with a lack of compassion.” To fight against this he produced the preschool series, “Hello Jack! The Kindness Show.” He mentioned, “This is an opportunity to remind them of messages of empathy, patience, and tolerance.” Through McBrayer’s passion and efforts, your children can have a positive influence on how they interact with others.
8. Something has been missing, and we’re seeing more people doing something about it.
People like Reale and McBrayer understand that the one thing that’s better than love is kindness. Love is more than just a word, it’s an action and that action is kindness. For some, it’s taking the time to listen, cleaning a neighbor’s home, opening a door, sharing a snack, acknowledging someone’s immediate need, giving a hug, validating someone’s feelings, spending quality time, and so much more.
9. Kindness heals the hardest of hearts and soothes the soul. But it takes practice.
It’s an interpersonal skill and a way of life that makes the word “love” subpar to all the benefits of being treated with kindness.
In the midst of all that’s happening in your busy life, it’s so easy to say an all too familiar phrase, “I love you” without putting much thought into it. We do it with our spouses, parents, friends, and children. Practicing kindness, whether in our words or actions, takes practice to develop – like a muscle.
10. It’s not our intentions that make a lasting impact, but rather how we make people feel.
Research shows that we remember most and magnify the end of an experience. Author Daniel Pink calls it the “peak-end rule” in When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing: “When we remember an event we assign the greatest weight to its most intense moment (the peak) and how it culminates (the end).”
To keep kindness top of mind, check out the following pages for inspiration:
- @kindnessorg – Kindness.org works strategically across everyday kindness, kids, collaborations, and companies to see the full potential of kindness realized at scale.
- @lifevestinside – Life Vest Inside is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring, empowering and educating people of all backgrounds to lead a life of kindness.
- @rakfoundation – The mission of The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is to make kindness the norm™ in our schools, workplaces, homes and communities.
- @goodgoodgoodco & @upworthy – sharing news that makes us feel more hopeful.
You may also like:
- Small Ways to Make a Big Difference
- DIY Cool-Off Kindness Fans
- Simple Gifts Kids Can Make
- 4 Resolutions Every Mom Should Make
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