Kindness

Young kids sharing ice cream coneKindness is characterized by being warm, friendly, pleasant, or compassionate toward others.

What Is Kindness?

Kindness can be used to characterize a mood, personality trait, or individual act. For example, the act of giving money to a person without resources may be an act of kindness. A person who is feeling kind might be unusually friendly and warm to people by, for example, complimenting strangers or exhibiting patience. When kindness is used to describe a personality trait, it refers to people who are generally warm, pleasant, friendly, and giving toward others.

Many religions and philosophies endorse kindness as an important practice. Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and numerous other religions teach their followers to exhibit kindness either in some circumstances or all circumstances.

Kindness and Evolution

Evolutionary biologists have frequently debated the evolutionary value of kindness. The traditional conception of “survival of the fittest” leaves little room for kindness as an adaptive strategy. However, some evolutionary biologists argue that kindness can be adaptive. It enables people to benefit close relatives, thus increasing their likelihood of procreating. It can also ensure that people fit into a community and gain the respect of others, both of which can help in times of crisis, such as when there is a food shortage or intruder.

Kindness and Psychology

While mental health professionals do not generally recommend kindness alone as a treatment strategy, there is some evidence that kindness toward others can help people experiencing mental health conditions. Kindness increases social interaction and can also help people feel better about their circumstances. Recipients of kindness also tend to feel better about themselves, and kindness can encourage people experiencing anxiety, depression, and other concerns to reach out for help. Therapists frequently try to practice kindness and acceptance toward the people they treat.

References:

  1. Forget survival of the fittest: It is kindness that counts. (2009, February 26). Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=kindness-emotions-psychology
  2. Kindness and the case for altruism. (n.d.). University of Pennsylvania Authentic Happiness. Retrieved from http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/newsletter.aspx?id=70

Last Updated: 12-11-2015

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