We’d all like to think we’re kind. I mean, you helped your sibling with their homework five years ago, so surely you’re not too bad, right?
Well, there’s actually more to kindness than just offering a helping hand from time to time. And while many people are genuinely kind, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves of the traits that constitute authentic kindness at its greatest.
So, without further ado… These are the 9 signs you’re a genuinely kind person, according to psychology.
1) You’re very generous
The way I see it, there are two different mindsets that go into helping others. The first kind is what most of us do – we help out of necessity, obligation, or duty.
The second kind exudes genuine kindness because those are the people who derive true happiness from a simple act of generosity.
And according to research, they usually tend to be quite happy individuals themselves. In fact, happy people who help others are even happier as a result, which means that they experience satisfaction from a completely selfless gesture.
Sure, you might be generous because you want to get in someone’s good books or because you want to be perceived as good and benevolent. But those are ulterior motives that aren’t grounded in genuine kindness.
If the action is so selfless that there’s nothing to gain, and yet it still makes you happy… that’s kindness right there.
2) You have other people’s best interests at heart
The reason helping others is intrinsically rewarding for you is that you genuinely want other people to be happy, even if you’re not close friends or family.
When you do someone a favor or help them out with something, you’re not thinking about all the different ways this could come in handy in the future. You don’t keep a tally. Often, you even forget that you helped someone in the first place because it’s just a normal Tuesday for you.
This makes sense because emotions can be contagious, especially if you’re an empath. If you make someone happy, you’re likely to feel happy, too, and the action itself strengthens your connection with another person as a nice little side-effect.
Oh, and speaking of empathy, that’s another big one.
3) You’re highly empathetic
Researchers have found that while we all manage to learn a new task the quickest if the reward is meant to be ours, empaths learn quicker than others if the reward is for somebody else.
Seeing as empaths easily relate to other people and can place themselves in another person’s shoes, this isn’t all too surprising. And since they see so much of themselves in the world around them, they might also be more likely to put in extra effort to make other people happy simply because they know they’d feel great if the roles were reversed.
Oh, and remember the point about emotions being contagious?
Well, since empaths are highly attuned to other people’s emotional states, it’s no shocker that they want to spread kindness and joy rather than negativity – after all, the negativity would only backfire, imprinting on their own mindset.
4) You have an open mind
Based on research, actively open-minded thinking is characterized by:
- The willingness to consider alternative options
- Reflective thought
- Sensitivity to evidence that contradicts one’s current beliefs
- Avoidance of superstitious thinking and other biases
The last point is especially important. Open-minded people don’t fall for the bias trap because they know that the world is way too complicated for them to think in black-and-white categories.
This means that they don’t discriminate or view other people through the lens of stereotypes and generalizations, spreading their kindness to anyone who’s willing to receive it.
5) You always try to keep your promises
…even when it’s hard.
Simple. You know how devastated you’d feel if someone you relied on failed to keep their word, and since you’re such an empath, you don’t want to inflict that pain on somebody else – least of all people you deeply care about.
Kindness is reliability. It’s taking one’s promises seriously. It’s showing up when it matters. It’s becoming a rock for your close ones to lean on.
More than anything, it’s a clear display of respect because it means you respect other people’s feelings, time, and energy enough to meet them halfway.
6) You respect other people’s autonomy
Speaking of respect, this little word plays an astronomical role when it comes to kindness.
And that’s because when you respect other people’s autonomy, it means you view them as independent entities whose experience of the universe is equal to yours, no matter how different.
Sounds like basic empathy, right?
Well, I’ve actually met plenty of people who paid no heed to the autonomy of others – they disregarded their friends’ opinions, got mad when you held different beliefs from theirs, and pushed your boundaries even after you’d said “no”.
When you think about it, it kind of sounds like the summary of human history.
If genuinely kind people were always in charge, there’d be close to no conflicts because we’d all want to get along.
7) You don’t feel a sense of superiority
Equality. We are very far from reaching it on a societal level, and yet every single kind person I’ve ever met held the same belief: they didn’t think themselves better than others.
They believed in equal rights for everybody. And they had the humility to recognize that they weren’t perfect and could still learn a great deal from others.
Contrary to what you might think, this is actually quite rare. Many people out there act like they have a superiority complex, which inevitably prevents them from being as kind as possible.
8) You put in consistent effort and show appreciation
The kindest person I know is my best friend. And if there’s one thing about her you should know, it’s that she will always make you feel like she deeply cares about you.
Even when she lives halfway across the country, we schedule weekly phone calls. She remembers what’s going on in my life and asks all the questions that matter. I know I can always rely on her, even in the busiest of times, because she prioritizes relationships first and foremost.
What’s more, my friend also compliments me, shows appreciation for our friendship, and never fails to make me feel amazing during every interaction.
And yes, kindness is the absolute key. My friend cares because she’s kind; she is consistent because she’s kind; she strives to cultivate our friendship because she’s kind.
Sounds like you?
Well, I’ve got great news! You might be a kind person as well.
9) You always give others the benefit of the doubt
Finally, the one thing that connects every kind person I’ve come across is that they always – and I mean always – want to give others the benefit of the doubt.
Since their intentions are pure and come from a good place, they automatically trust that other people act according to the same principles, and even if they see some kind of proof that contradicts that belief, they will find it incredibly difficult to change their minds.
This is why it can get pretty dangerous for kind people out there in the world – you might fall for a manipulator’s tricks just because you want to think they’d never treat you poorly, for example.
But does that mean you should grow a thick skin and turn your heart into stone?
Not at all. In fact, your kindness is your biggest strength. All you’ve got to do is pay more attention to who you’re investing your time and energy in because they are both precious resources, and the simple truth is that you can’t help everybody.
And if you give someone the benefit of the doubt, only for them to show you their true colors… accept that not everyone is kind and that you may need to put some boundaries in place.
Your kindness deserves to be appreciated and reciprocated.
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