To some people, kindness can feel like a weakness.
They worry it makes them a sucker who will only get taken advantage of. They feel like always putting number one first in life is the best way to succeed.
But they’re wrong. There is great power in caring.
This article will explore the 9 ways that kindness makes us all stronger.
1) It’s a reflection of deeper self-worth
Kindness not only boosts others’ self-esteem, but it’s also often a reflection of our own.
Here’s the thing:
Much like playground bullies are usually the most insecure in life, the unkindest people are also often the unhappiest.
People who can show kindness and compassion towards others are usually better-rounded individuals.
Because practicing kindness isn’t just something that we direct toward other people. We should show ourselves that same grace.
Directing kindness toward yourself fosters greater self-acceptance, which only serves to make you stronger.
2) It’s good for business
We may think that money makes the world go around, and perhaps in some ways, it’s true. But it certainly isn’t everything.
In fact, kindness can mean a whole lot more to us.
One study found that people in the workplace are more motivated by recognition and positive praise than by financial reward.
Treating employees and colleagues with respect, and kindness is actually better for business.
This is highlighted by one particular study discussed in Harvard Business Review:
“In a landmark study analyzing more than 3,500 business units with more than 50,000 individuals, researchers found that acts of courtesy, helping, and praise were related to core goals of organizations. Higher rates of these behaviors were predictive of productivity, efficiency, and lower turnover rates. When leaders and employees act kindly towards each other, they facilitate a culture of collaboration and innovation.”
3) It can increase your likelihood of success
As I hinted at in the intro to this article, we’ve been led to believe that kind people don’t have what it takes to be successful.
But can we take a seemingly softer approach and still come out stronger?
In fact, the idea that the way to get to the top is by being ruthless is increasingly being discredited.
One study conducted back in 1996 analyzed the language used by members of the US Congress during floor debates.
It found that approval ratings of congressmen and congresswomen went down when they were uncivil in their speeches. Meanwhile, they went up if they were kinder and more polite.
Another more recent study from the same team of researchers observed the reactions to Donald Trump’s posts on Twitter.
What they discovered may well surprise you:
Even very few of his own supporters actively liked the more unkind nastier tweets.
The bottom line is that being cutthroat isn’t the only way to success, we can also get there through kindness.
4) It makes you more attractive
Not only does kindness have the capacity to make you successful in life, but it can also help make you more of a winner in the love department too.
I can certainly say that my boyfriend is the kindest man I’ve met, and it is hands down my favorite thing about him.
And it seems I’m not alone in seeking this quality.
In fact, science says this is the number one trait that makes you instantly more desirable.
One study looking at our preferences in a mate asked people to create their ideal partner based on seven factors, including:
Kindness, physical attractiveness, good finances, humor, creativity, interest in having children, and religious beliefs.
Lo and behold, kindness came out top as the most sought-after trait. What’s more, this was found to be universal across different countries and cultures.
The reality is that whilst looks fade and money can come and go — kindness stands the test of time.
5) It gives life more meaning
Our quality of life is so often dictated by how meaningful life feels. But how can kindness help us to create more meaning in our lives?
Well, it does so by encouraging us to invest in something bigger than ourselves. And this is the key.
As Hack Spirit founder Lachlan Brown explains in his article ‘Psychology says finding meaning in life comes down to 4 basic pillars’:
“Look for things that are bigger than what you are and what you know. In two words: seek transcendence.
“Transcendence doesn’t have to involve something spiritual or anything remotely religious.
“Transcendence is allowing your sense of self to disappear, or better yet, blend into a bigger part of your reality.
“Transcendence is experienced differently by various people but it’s often described as elation, a feeling of belonging to a greater thing.”
The reality is that we find more meaning when we invest ourselves in others.
It could be spending money on other people or sharing our time and gifts with others.
But either way, research shows that giving back is what gives life more meaning, and that essentially comes back to kindness.
6) It helps you build stronger relationships
We can be strong alone, but we are even stronger together. And kindness is an essential part of nurturing healthier relationships.
For example, one study found that students asked to perform three acts of kindness a week “experienced significantly bigger increases in peer acceptance (or sociometric popularity)” than students who were asked to perform a different task.
Kindness makes us more likable.
It fosters trust and acceptance, which makes it easier to build social bonds with one another.
So much so that research has suggested that “kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage.”
As relationship coach, Dr. Jessica Higgins points out:
“When kindness is expressed in a relationship, couples feel more care, consideration, love, and understanding. Kindness contributes to an overall feeling of goodwill and positivity. Partners are inspired and motivated to continue the pattern, which results in a positive cycle of love and generosity.”
7) It makes us feel good
Arguably one of the simplest yet most powerful reasons caring makes you stronger is that we feel all the better for it.
Research has even shown how giving compliments unwittingly feels better than receiving them.
One experiment laid out in Harvard Business Review explains:
“We paired up participants and asked them to write about themselves and then talk about themselves with each other. Next, we asked one of them to give an honest compliment about something they liked or respected about the other participant after listening to them. Consistently, we found that giving compliments actually made people happier than receiving them. Surprisingly, though, people were largely unaware of the hedonic benefits of being kind.”
Perhaps one of the reasons kindness gives us such a kick is that it releases so-called “feel-good hormones”.
In the words of author and lecturer Susan Cain:
“Doing nice things for others boosts your serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Like exercise, altruism also releases endorphins, a phenomenon known as a “helper’s high.”
8) It improves our health
Kindness not only has the ability to make you emotionally stronger, but it can also boost your physical well-being.
In a number of ways actually.
For starters, it may well help to prevent illness.
The Oxytocin (aka “cuddle hormone”)released through any act of kindness can directly benefit our bodies.
Meanwhile, another study found that the act of volunteering helped reduce disease-causing inflammation in the body.
We are also all well aware of the harmful effects of stress on our health.
So-called prosocial behaviors (actions intended to help others) have been shown to be “an effective strategy for reducing the impact of stress on emotional functioning.”
Kindness might even provide the ultimate health benefit by helping you live longer.
And simply having a stronger network of family and friends apparently puts you at a lower risk of heart disease.
At the end of the day, it goes back to our earlier point of kindness helping us to create better relationships.
9) It can even slow down aging
Sticking with the health theme of kindness promoting a stronger body — kindness keeps you young.
Who would have guessed it?! But it’s true.
Participants in one study were asked to perform different types of meditations.
One of those was a “loving-kindness” meditation. They were specifically asked to focus compassion on other people.
So how did this slow aging?
Well, we all have things called telomeres in our bodies that help to protect our DNA from daily damage. The more telomeres we have, the longer we are likely to live.
Researchers observed that people focused on the kindness meditation lost the least of these telomeres during the course of the study.
In short, being kind might well keep you strong by silently delaying the aging process.
Hopefully I’ve provided more than enough reasons to prove why kindness is a sign of ultimate strength in life.
So in closing, I’ll simply leave you with the words of writer, poet, and philosopher Kahlil Gibran:
“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”