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January 25, 2022

Kindness Matters and Here’s Why

Written by Dr. Gia Marson

“and i said to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.’”
— Nayyirah Waheed

Demonstrating kindness isn’t just a nice thing to do for others; it can make a real difference to your mental health, self-esteem, the quality of your relationships, and your eating habits. Kindness is a skill—and a sign of strength—that can be worked on and developed for the benefit of you and those around you.

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”
— Kahlil Gibran

The importance of kindness

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou

When you engage in an act of kindness—a.k.a. being generous, thoughtful, patient, or friendly—you can make someone else’s day and boost your own feel-good index. Acts of kindness can radiate warmth and support, causing others to trust and open up to you.

Kindness research

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
— Aesop

Long-term research suggests that kindness is a significant factor when predicting how long a marriage will last. The study found that spouses who demonstrated a gentler, more understanding, and kinder approach in their interactions were still together six years post–initial interview. Couples whose marriages ended in divorce were more dismissive, hostile, and rude to each other.

In another study, participants performed an act of kindness for either a stranger, an acquaintance, or themselves every day for seven days. The research concluded that performing these acts of kindness increased participant happiness.

And a more recent study found that practicing kindness toward yourself can help to reduce stress, improve physical health, and increase the frequency of healthy behaviors. We tend to be our own harshest critics, so by applying a bit of self-compassion, you can reduce the pressure you put on yourself. Being kind to yourself allows you to fail occasionally but then quickly get back to healthy behaviors without undue stress.

Be kinder in your relationships

“Sometimes it only takes one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.”
— Jackie Chan

Whether you’re wanting to foster new relationships or strengthen old ones, here are some ways to be kinder to the people in your life.

  • Listen: Taking the time to really listen to your loved ones is an act of kindness. Providing a compassionate ear can help others feel supported and understood.
  • Be empathetic: Practicing empathy will not only allow others to feel understood, it can also help you to be more patient with your loved ones.
  • Make time for others: Setting aside time to focus on and bond with a loved one can be an especially generous thing to do that could make someone’s day.
  • Reach out: If you think someone is struggling, a quick text or phone call can make all the difference.
  • Be accepting, not judging: Our data-driven existence means we’re bombarded with messages of not being good enough, smart enough, healthy enough, fit enough, rich enough—the list goes on. You can make a difference by not adding to or agreeing with those messages when you have conversations with others, and even in your own self-talk.

Be kinder to yourself

“Be kind to yourself so you can be happy enough to be kind to the world.”
— Misha Collins

Kindness isn’t just for others; being kind to yourself can improve your happiness, sense of self-worth, and overall well-being. Here are some ways to practice self-kindness:

  • Self-care: Whether it’s scheduling time to meditate, get a massage, or just do something that gives you joy, practicing self-care is a great way to be kind to yourself.
  • Forgiveness: We all fail from time to time, but it’s important to forgive yourself for mistakes. Harsh self-talk will get you nowhere, but understanding that you can never be perfect will help you get back to healthy behaviors more quickly.
  • Self-respect: Whether it’s knowing your boundaries and what you’re willing to accept in a relationship, or simply loving your reflection, self-respect is the ultimate expression of kindness.
  • Self-love: Stop judging yourself. Period. Because there’s no such thing as a perfect body. Humans are imperfect, and our authentic selves are cause for celebration. So find something about your body that you’re grateful for and honor it.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
— Plato


Homan, K. J., & Sirois, F. M. (2017). Self-compassion and physical health: Exploring the roles of perceived stress and health-promoting behaviors. Health Psychology Open, 4(2).

Rowland, L., & Curry, O. S. (2019). A range of kindness activities boost happiness. The Journal of Social Psychology, 159(3) 340–343.

Tashiro, T. (2014). The science of happily ever after: What really matters in the quest for enduring love. Harlequin.

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