How to make kindness your norm and why you should

In celebration of World Kindness Day, which encourages us to make kindness the norm, discover how simple it can be to do something kind each and every day – and how much you and everyone around you, will benefit.

Twenty-three years ago, the World Kindness Movement introduced World Kindness Day on November 13 to highlight and encourage good deeds in communities all around the world.

The Kindness Factory is a not-for-profit organisation that’s on a mission to make the world a kinder place and its founder, Kath Koschel, says after another challenging year, there’s arguably never been a better time to get involved.

“As well as being a great reminder to get out among the community and do something kind, this year’s World Kindness Day is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on everything we’ve been through recently as we re-emerge as a nation, and also to consider how we want to be as we move forward,” Kath says.

“And I think kindness should definitely continue to be at the forefront of that.”

Why everybody benefits when we’re kind

Research shows that performing random acts of kindness is good for the giver, delivering everything from a genuine feel-good factor to less stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and even improved vitality.

But what’s in it for the recipient?

“I know personally, my life has been touched by kindness in so many different ways and there have been times where the kindness of others, and noticing those kind things when they’ve been done for me, has genuinely saved my life and allowed me to believe that a great world exists out there,” Kath says.

“So I think kindness is one of the few things we can do from an action standpoint that benefits both the giver and the receiver.”

Experts from the University of London agree, saying that the same area of the brain lights up whether you’re the giver or the recipient of a kind act, suggesting everyone involved experiences a positive wave of emotion.

Plus, there’s the fact that kindness is contagious.

Not only is it a mood booster for people who simply witness an act of kindness, a US study shows people who benefit from kindness are more likely to pay it forward, creating a domino effect from person to person.

Practise makes perfect when giving

While you’ll enjoy and distribute the biggest effects of kindness when you perform kind acts regularly, World Kindness Day is a chance to practise the skill.

A study conducted among students attending The University of British Columbia showed that mattered when trying to make kindness the norm.

From the results, released in September, researchers found that completing planned acts of kindness was an informative, inspirational experience for students.

“We found that the students loved the assignment,” co-author Dr Sally Stewart said in a report on the study.

“For some, it helped them realise that kindness is a skill that they can learn to do better and that there are many ways to be kind.

“For others, it helped them realise that they already do kind things.

“It reinforced their desire and intention of doing more kind acts.”

From little things, big things grow

Not sure where to start on your mission to do something kind?

Bear in mind that it doesn’t have to be a big gesture to be effective.

“Human connection is the ultimate form of kindness and I think particularly now, it’s the type of kindness that can play a really big part in how we move forward,” Kath says.

“So something like starting a meaningful conversation on World Kindness Day – there’s no greater time than right now, to do that for a person.”

Other World Kindness Movement ideas include:

  • Making the effort to find out something new about someone you work with.
  • Taking the time to ask a person with a lot of years and lived experience under their belt, about their past.
  • Smiling at people as you walk past them in the street.
  • Buying a cup of coffee for the person standing behind you in the queue at a cafe.
  • Telling a friend or family member you love them.
  • Complimenting someone.
  • Sending a surprise gift or flowers to someone you care about.

You can also find other ideas and log your own acts of kindness at Kindness Factory’s kindness log.

“One small act really can lead to great change,” Kath says

“So there’s never a wasted act of kindness.”

Written by Karen Fittall.