6 phrases kind people use to uplift others, according to psychology

When you’re feeling down, there are people who can always find something kind to say that makes you look at things in a different light or reassess your situation.

They might be motivational and inspiring. They could be instructive or compassionate. They might even be somewhat critical, but that might be what you need to hear.

It might sound strange, but psychologists actually study things like kindness and have figured out a lot about how kind communication can help others. 

While we’re going to look at some specific phrases here, they’re not set in stone. These are things you can modify so you can use them in your own life as well.

Here are six phrases kind people use to uplift others, according to psychology, that you can add to your collection, too.

1) “That was really kind.”

One phrase that immediately makes a whole lot of sense is something like “That was really kind” or “That’s so nice of you.”

These phrases and others like them are used to point out when someone is doing something kind for others. But are they uplifting?

They can be used in two ways and both of them are going to make the person hearing them feel happier. 

On the one hand, if someone were to say this to you after you do a favor for them or someone else, it’s a clear compliment. It also gives you recognition for a good deed and that’s usually pretty hard to come across.

This can give you a feeling of accomplishment, contentment, and pride in your actions.

But these phrases can also be used when you witness a kindness being done from a distance. 

Maybe you see someone stop and help a stranded motorist or a person help a stranger pick up things they dropped and scattered all over the place. A kind person might instantly recognize and point out these kind acts to you, so you notice them, too.

Well, guess what?

Research shows that simply witnessing acts of kindness can have really positive effects on us.

Not only can it be uplifting to the spirit, but seeing kindness in action can also cause our brains to release dopamine. This feel-good neurotransmitter also causes your blood vessels to dilate which means it can reduce blood pressure and help you feel relaxed, too.

Not bad for one little phrase.

2) “I’m thankful for…”

Kind people do the world a bunch of favors. 

They make life better and brighter, help us when we’re down, and try to enact positive change.

But one thing they do that’s so often overlooked is making us feel gratitude.

When someone else says “I’m thankful for..” and then lists those things they really appreciate, it’s nearly impossible not to focus on your own gratitude.

And you don’t have to just do this once a year at Thanksgiving!

Practicing gratitude can and should be a daily activity.

In fact, there’s a ton of evidence that gratitude is linked to better health and increased well-being. Studies show that when people practice gratitude interventions like writing down three things a day they’re grateful for or sending gratitude letters to others, their well-being can greatly improve.

Gratitude can decrease stress and anxiety and increase feelings of optimism and happiness in our lives. 

So when someone else tells you what they’re grateful for, it’s a real kindness that helps you think of the positives in your life, too.

3) “This is great!”

Kind people can infect us with their positivity, helping us to burst negative bubbles or break patterns that aren’t serving us.

Sometimes, all they need to do is say the right thing at the right time, like pointing out how great something is in real time. 

Famed writer Kurt Vonnegut extolled his readers to stop for a second in the middle of a great meal or a beautiful sunset and say out loud, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” His idea was that by saying it aloud, you can focus your mind on positives and move away from negatives.

In fact, psychology agrees with him to a large extent. 

It’s not that you can just say things you don’t mean to fool yourself, however. It’s important that you really feel the positive thing you’re saying, but when you do, that positivity really can have an effect.

This is even true with research papers in psychology!

Amazingly, titles that include positive framing words like “excellent,” “novel,” and “unique” were much more likely to be read and 13% more likely to be cited by other researchers. Interestingly, these positive framing words were found to be used 21% more often by male writers than females. 

Perhaps men are more expected to be self-promoting than women?

Whatever the reason, it’s clear that this kind of positivity is infectious and can really uplift others.

4) “No one has it all, and no one lacks it all.”—Christopher Peterson

This next phrase may look like one of those motivational quotes you see plastered over pretty sunrise pics on social media.

If it does, that’s because that’s exactly what it is.

Psychologists would call this a “reality check” quote, which is different from “empowerment” or choice” quotes. But actually, all of these quotes can be useful.

Quotes meant to empower people tell us that even though we’re small, we can still have an effect. Choice quotes can tell us that we have the power to make decisions and changes in our lives. 

We’ve all seen these quotes floating around online for years or on the wall at the dentist’s office. But the question on your mind is probably… do they work?

Well, according to psychology, they do, though maybe not as well for everyone.

Some of us will see these quotes as old and played-out or cheesy. But then one will get our attention that might actually hit home.

Other people can really take these quotes to heart, particularly people who suffer from chronic medical conditions that are seriously impacting their lives. Some of these quotes can help them by boosting their self-esteem and improving their self-efficacy so they feel they have more agency in their lives.

The next time some kind person shares a motivational quote like this with you, at least give it a chance or pass it on to someone who you think would really benefit from it.

5) “Let me help”

Now, here’s a phrase most of us would love to hear almost anytime.

An offer of help is a show of kindness that just about everyone can appreciate. It’s also a sign that someone recognizes that we need help, and that’s often just as welcome as the help itself.

Hearing the phrase “Let me help” can make you feel seen. When it comes from a place of compassion, these three little words can give you instant relief from the stress that’s bothering you.

It’s as though you instantly feel like you’re not alone and that someone else can share the burden you’re carrying.

This is one of those caring and sharing phrases that represent the roots of kindness – offering what you can to someone in need.

And not only does the person receiving the offer feel better, but the person who makes it also benefits. According to research, doing things that are generous and help others can make people’s immune systems work better and help lower their blood pressure.

That’s like free medicine and all they have to do for it is help their fellow humans.

Not a bad deal, is it?

6) “Pay it forward”

I know what you’re thinking.

“Doesn’t the phrase come from a 2000s movie starring Haley Joel Osment?!”

Well, you’re right about the movie, but the phrase and the concept go back a whole lot longer than that.

The basis of this phrase is that it’s something kind people say when they do something wonderful without expecting anything in return. If you do try to repay the favor or the help they’ve given you, they tell you to “pay it forward” instead.

On the one hand, they’ve already done you a solid so that’s kind enough already.

But you might not realize that, by using this phrase, they’re done you another big favor.

They’ve given you the idea and the motivation to pass this kindness on to someone else who might need it. And when you do, both you and the new recipient can reap the rewards of another act of kindness.

Researchers studying random acts of kindness found that they improve the mood of both the giver and receiver. They also have knock-on effects. People who receive acts of kindness tend to really appreciate them and then do even bigger acts for others.

So, it seems kindness is contagious!

Final words

These six phrases kind people use to uplift others, according to psychology, are now yours.

Use them well and use them often and both you and the people you’re kind to will reap some big rewards!

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