When thinking about the current state of our society, the word “incivility” often pops into my mind. It has come to a point where I cannot turn on the news without completely losing hope in humanity. I know I am not alone in that regard. A lot of people have given up on watching the news altogether and want nothing to do with the controversial topics that are dividing this nation.
It is NOT a time to give up though. It is a time to act!
Many people are hesitant to act because they do not consider themselves “fighters.” Well, you do not have to fight, per se, to combat hate and bias. You simply have to be kind.
November 13th was World Kindness Day, and I was reminded of the impact kindness can have on people. It is fundamental aspect of human nature and it has the ability to unite us all. Kindness has the power to bridge the divides created by race, religion, politics, gender, and even borders.
However, it only works if we practice kindness intentionally. Don’t get me wrong. Celebrating this concept once a year is great, but this shouldn’t be a holiday. It should be a lifestyle. Instead of doing random acts of kindness, let us work towards intentional acts of kindness on a daily basis.
It is simple really. The folks at Whole Life Challenge have outlined four simple steps for us to follow:
Each day, perform a simple act of kindness toward anyone in your world—friend, family member, acquaintance, or stranger.
The acts have no size requirement. Small acts are as important as grand gestures.
The acts need not cost any money.
You must perform the act intentionally. You should not give yourself credit for something that was nice but unintentional.
Like anything, the more we practice intentional kindness, the better we will get at it. All of sudden something will shift, and you will find yourself choosing kindness without even thinking about it. It will become second nature to you. Kindness is a natural human quality, but it DOES require intentional action to realize its potential.
Even science backs up the power of kindness. Research actually shows that kindness is good for our physical and our emotional well-being. Studies show that thinking about, observing, or practicing a kind act stimulates the vagus nerve, which literally warms up the heart and may be closely connected to the brain’s receptor networks for oxytocin.
Kindness also triggers the reward system in our brain’s emotion regulation center releasing dopamine, the hormone that’s associated with positive emotions and the sensation of a natural high.
Kindness has also been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can literally put us, and others, at ease. Kindness works wonders in the relationships we have with ourselves and with everyone else, even with people we consider strangers. That is why it is a powerful tool to combat incivility.
Be intentionally kind the next time you are out and about. Offer a kind word or gesture to someone you meet or to someone you already know. Notice what happens. You will see that the effects are cumulative. Kind acts cause a ripple effect that make a big difference and help to spread happiness. By living intentionally, you will be contributing to the kind of world you want to live in—a place where people are not divided but united and where civility reigns supreme.