(Because of the current release of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” here is a reprint of a previous column.)
I’m told that being kind is good for me. The science shows that kindness produces both physical and emotional benefits.
Researchers have been studying how uplifting emotions like gratitude, love, joy, and inspiration affect our well-being and literally improve our lives.
What’s incredible is these emotions are already within us; it’s just a matter of whether or not we take intentional action to express them.
Mister Rogers reminds us that there are reasons to be committed to love and kindness that extend far beyond their health benefits.
What is kindness anyway? It is simply is a positive action that leaves someone in a better situation than before.
It doesn’t have to be extravagant. A smile. Holding the door open for another. Bringing food to someone. Paying for the person in line behind you. Connecting with a stranger. Saying “I love you” to someone close.
What’s important is to just take action… no matter how small.
We often hold back from being kind because we don’t know what to do or we don’t think our actions will make an impact. Remember the Golden Rule? “Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated.”
If you wonder whether your kind actions make very much difference to other people, or to the world in general, keep in mind that no matter what you do in life, someone is always watching.
So, experiencing or even witnessing “moral beauty” such as kindness has a ripple effect, and also elevates our own morality and inspires us to be kinder, more compassionate people.
We should look at kindness not as a responsibility, but as a choice. When you look at it that way, it’s pretty easy to get it right. It’s your choice to open a door for a stranger. It’s your choice to assist the person struggling with groceries. It’s your choice to be kind.
We have to make kindness the norm, not the exception.
Stop thinking about random acts of kindness and started thinking about intentional acts of kindness? Because at the end of the day, you must live with yourself and the choices you make.
Mister Rogers said, “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”
Kindness starts with one. One smile. One compliment. One conversation. One intentional act!
(Teachers can download free K-8 lesson plans at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/for-educators. They are developmentally appropriate, standards-aligned lessons that teach kids important Social and Emotional Learning [SEL] skills.)