“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you,” Princess Diana once said.
These are truly words to live by, in order to improve your life and the lives of those around you. For Lauren English, a licensed professional counselor and business development representative with Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Healthcare, kindness is also a way of improving your mental health and helping others’ mental health, as well.
The impact that kindness can have on mental health, she says, is almost “magical.”
“If there was one magical cure for the many woes of the world, it might be the power of kindness. With the epidemic of stress, anxiety and depression threatening to overload our lives at times, and sometimes the world can seem more divided than united, giving and receiving kindness is a way for all of us to connect on a deeper level,” she says.
Kindness can be broken down into two categories: being kind and receiving kindness. As social animals, humans are almost hardwired to be kind, English argues, and this should be encouraged. “The more kindness we experience, the more we realize we are more alike than different,” she says.
English suggests encouraging children to be kind to others. Kindness can lead to greater peer acceptance and is a personality trait that is looked for by many for friends and partners.
She offers four tips for teaching kindness to children and others:
- Teach through actions
- Give responsibilities and opportunities for kindness
- Inspire actions toward others
- Teach empathy and compassion
None of the tips listed above involve rewards. That’s because English wants kindness to be its own reward. “We want to teach kind behavior as something that we just do because it’s a way of living that can help our mental health,” she says.
With those tips, English gives one more admonition: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind,” she says.