Humans are deeply social animals and kindness is crucial for building and maintaining the relationships that help us succeed in our everyday lives. It's so important, in fact, that rewards for kindness are even built into our biology.
Kindness can improve our mood to make us feel joyful, serene, hopeful, and compassionate, and it does so by affecting the chemistry of our brains. Performing acts of kindness can boost serotonin and dopamine levels, which are part of our body's natural reward system. And even sending kind thoughts through meditation can stimulate the production of oxytocin, which is an important hormone in social bonding.
These positive effects can be felt whether we're expressing kindness toward a loved one, or toward someone we don't generally get along with. Both can help us learn to identify positive characteristics in ourselves and others and can train our brain to think more optimistically. Kindness also humanizes others and is an important step in developing empathy.
Kindness is a part of who we are--and who you are--so take advantage of it! Share positive messages and feelings with people around you. Take small actions to help others, even if they don't benefit you. And remember to reserve some kindness for yourself; sometimes we get hung up on our own shortcomings, but it's important to remember that we're all human. If you can show kindness to yourself, then you can share it with anyone.
If you would like to learn more about how kindness impacts the human brain, feel free to read the TIME magazine article: The Biology of Kindness: How It Makes Us Happier and Healthier.
"To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."
- Mr. Rogers
Want to support mental and emotional health in your school or classroom?
Mindfulness exercises provide children with the tools they need to self-regulate when facing difficult or stressful situations. Check out our blog for more tips on how to integrate mindfulness and social-emotional learning into your school community!