The Power and Importance of Being Kind for a Healthy Life


Do You Consider Yourself Kind?

I’ve always had a sense that kindness is important. And now, in this wonderful article in The Atlantic, I see how and why kindess works.

(Do take a few minutes to read it from beginning to end. This is one of those life-changing articles that is well worth the time to read!)

Turns out that kindness is the glue that keeps relationships together and contempt is the wedge that drives them apart.

For many years, I’ve tried to become kinder–ever since I was in my thirties when my friend, Chuck Thompson, reminded me of it’s importance. Since then, I’ve worked on it.

And now, in this Atlantic article, I see that my instincts were well-founded.

“Kindness is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage.” according to research done by John  and Julie Gottman.  And the more kindness someone experiences, the kinder they’ll be.

Kindness is important for a good marriage. It’s important for raising children. And I think it’s important for living a good life!

Think of Kindness as a Muscle

You might think that people are either kind or they’re not. But as suggested in the Atlantic article, I prefer to think of kindness as something that grows stronger with exercise and practice.

A little work on being kind every day is likely to pay off in big ways.

Here are 5 ideas for practicing kindness. I try to use one or another of these practices every day.

  1. Notice good things in people and comment on them.
  2. Assume that people have good intentions even when their best efforts go awry.
  3. Touch your partner and your friends. Literally, reach out with gestures of affection.
  4. Take a moment to respond to what your partner says. Don’t just blow him (or her) off.
  5. Try to do something generous every day. Small acts of generosity work wonders.

I still don’t claim to be kind — or at least not as kind as I’d like to be. But I’m still married after all these 40 plus years, so perhaps my ongoing efforts have made a difference.

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Keep a Kindness Journal This Week

You don’t need to make this difficult or fancy. Each day, just jot down somewhere (on your phone or a small piece of paper) one thing you did that was kind… a moment or a gesture or an action that took you out of yourself and enabled you to connect in a positive way with someone else.

When you take a moment to reflect on an act of kindness by writing it down, you’ll be pushing yourself to “flex your kindness muscle” by keeping it in the foreground of your mind. And the kinder you are, the better your relationships will be… with everyone.

In the comments, share one or two ways that you’ve recently been kind to someone else — your kids, your spouse, a friend — anyone at all.

  • Kathleen

    I brought dinner, dessert, and some magazines to a friend who’d recently broken his foot. I’ll be bringing more magazines over later this week. I think of kindness going hand-in-hand with the idea of “paying it forward.” Whenever someone is kind to me or my family, I am so grateful, and also try to spread that kindness further out into the world when I can.

    • Randy

      I think that is great – I remember when I had minor surgery and was shocked when co-workers came and visited me at home – I will never forget that.

    • Andrea Kihlstedt

      I love the idea of “paying if forward.” It’s a sort of cosmic or universal kindness. Thanks for your comment, Kathleen.

  • Randy

    hmmm, Im not sure what I can categorize here as kind because I was responding to what they have done for me. – Anyway – My neighbors invited me down to their family vacation at the beach last weekend and I was honored to go and visit. I had a relaxing time at the beach and watching the wild horses (even though i see them all the time in Lancaster county-lol)
    anyway – I wanted to do something nice for them so I ordered one of my favorite things (Oreo cookie cupcakes) – I had to place a special last minute order and push to get them finished before July 4th. anyway, I dropped them off last night to them as a thank you for the enjoyable time. As I said Im not sure if that counts because it was my way of saying thank you. – Ohh I got a quick one – it was storming one day and i seen a pregnant lady discouraged with no umbrella and I seen that she just looked fairly down – so i said where is your vehicle? she pointed and made the lights blink – (it must have been the right thing to do cause my car was surely the one next to hers-lol) so i said – hey my car is right beside yours – and I made my lights blink – I said i tell you what – I will let you hold my keys and I will go get your car. She was shocked and said ohhh – would you – I really would appreciate it – Thank You very much!!

    • Andrea Kihlstedt

      What a lovely thing to do, Randy. Not only did you keep her from getting wet, but you also found a way to make her comfortable with your help. So very thoughtful and kind.

  • Randy

    ohhhh Great Article by the way – I shared it with friends and family!!!!