Do you want to progress in your happiness, health, and all-around live better? It all starts from giving kindness to yourself and others.
We’re all well aware of the Golden Rule, introduced to us before we even began schooling- treat others the way you would like to be treated. In other words: be kind. What exactly is kindness, though? Why is kindness so important?
Kindness is what allows us to have compassion and empathy for others as well as ourselves. It helps us with the ability to relate to people and build positive relationships, and expands our socialization skills. Kindness also has the ability to make us healthier.
Ancient Chinese philosophy and medical texts used for millennia describe how specific organs are related to emotions and emotional activities, such as anxiety to the lungs and anger to the liver. The organ for joy is the heart, and Huangdi Neijing, the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor or Esoteric Scripture of the Yellow Emperor, describes further. To quote, “The five yin-organs of the human body produce five kinds of essential qi, which bring forth joy, anger, grief, worry, and fear.” Essentially, these five “yin-organs” are the basis of our health, and our emotions directly impact their condition. In fact, our emotions are a large contender to disease; when they overpower us they can cause serious injury to organs. That is not to say that emotions are bad– emotions felt within healthy, normal limits are, well, normal. It is when emotions stretch beyond simple stimuli to external factors that they may overcome a person’s wellbeing and cost them their health.
Back to our original question, though: how exactly does kindness play into all of this?
By being kind to ourselves and others, we unlock a way of understanding our emotional limits and, most importantly, the significance of gratitude. Rather than giving your entire focus to ways to uplift your own anxieties, pay attention to wishing others well in equal amounts. Try your best to be thankful for what you have, such as food, shelter, and loved ones- I know from personal experience how hard it is to do this, and it is even worse when a neurotypical tells you to, “just stop being depressed!” I will say though, overthinking is the root cause to many of my own problems, as well as my peers who suffer from similar conditions. Taking a step back and acknowledging what we have helps in the long run.
Still not convinced? Here science-backed methods for feeling kindness and ways kindness benefits us:
- Kindness releases “feel-good hormones” (endorphins)
- When you do something nice for someone else, it makes you feel better too; this has to do with the pleasure centers in your brain
- It increases serotonin
- It reduces stress
- It allows you to get outside of yourself and take a break from the stressors in your own life, and this behavior can also make you better equipped to handle
- It gives you recognition that you need to take care of yourself: take care of your health. Only you can do it for yourself
- It helps you give yourself recognition
- It helps you forgive and respect yourself, and reminds you of your own good qualities
So, kindness helps our heart stay healthy, which helps all of our other organs stay healthy, which helps us as a whole to stay healthy. Kindness allows us to take a break and it releases hormones and starts chemical reactions in our bodies that highly benefit us. What else could there possibly be?
Being kind to others and yourself is the easiest, most inexpensive, and most impactful way to relieve anxiety. It is not a “cure” per say, nor does it magically make everything better, or “go away.” It is a big step in the right direction, though, the one that allows you to look at yourself and your situation from a different perspective. By developing a new lense from volunteering, investing in a hobby, or simply helping other people in small ways, you gain a new understanding of life. Kindness is good for the people you help, thus the world, thus your entire wellbeing.
As much as expanding your kindness helps, though, you must also recognize the benefits of kindness to yourself. Allow yourself to step away from the negativity you might feel yourself succumbing to. Stop looking at comments sections you know will be filled with negativity; stop making an abundance of self-deprecating jokes; stop comparing your struggles to those of other people. When you are kind to others, you impact their lives- when you are kind to yourself, it should also have an impact on your life, right?
In all of our lives, there is only one person we will have a life-long relationship with, and it’s ourselves. So, isn’t it best that you make sure you are good to yourself? Live your best life as your best self. Be kind.