We dedicate this April to Kindness. It is one of the most multi-layered character strengths and has many dimensions: generosity, caring, compassion, gentleness, humanity, politeness, graciousness, charity. When we are kind, we do favours and good deeds for others without any expectation of personal gain. This character strength requires respect for others, but it also involves emotional attachment. Kind people find joy in the act of giving and helping others, regardless of whether they are close to them or whether they have something else in common.
There are small acts of kindness like helping someone who is carrying heavy luggage by holding the door open for them to enter, as well as big acts of kindness, such as rescuing people who are fleeing war in their homeland or dedicating oneself to a profession that includes care for others, i.e. being a doctor, teacher, caregiver, etc.
Whether kindness is first or last on the list of our character strengths, it is a universal human quality and each of us possesses it.
If kindness is among our signature strengths, love and honesty are very likely to be among them too. These strengths complement each other very well and show up together.
But like all other strengths, kindness brings not only positives but also negatives when overused or underused.
Using kindness too much can cause us to burn out. In his book Give and Take, the American researcher professor Adam Grant gives us the answer to why some people who help others thrive, while others become exhausted and cannot succeed. The discovery Adam Grant makes is that we need to give "smart", i.e. help others with money, time, attention, but also take care of ourselves. "Smart" giving is well defined in this wise saying, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."
At the other extreme, under-utilizing kindness is identified with greediness. Interestingly, as a result of research, scientists have found that kindness is a very strong quality, but greediness is stronger because it is negative. Unfortunately, bad things affect us stronger than good things - bad health has a sharper effect on us than good health, we also remember the bad grades we received longer than the good ones, we learn more from our failures than our successes. Yet, it just means that to achieve balance in our lives, we should strive to enhance our positive traits as much as possible.
This April, we will try together to follow the advice of the English writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley. When this great thinker, author of many social and psychological experiments, was asked, "As a result of all you have done, have you come to any important conclusion that you would like to share with people?", he replied, "Try to be a little kinder".
The activities and information we will offer each day this month in Happiness Accelerator app
will help you to do exactly this: be a little kinder.
Here's another solid reason to accomplish our missions. Kindness (like happiness) is contagious. When we do good, we feel good because we have reason to believe in our kindness. But interestingly, the people we've done good to also feel better because they've received help or attention. In one scientific experiment 40% of the people for whom someone did something good, immediately afterwards did something good for another person.
So - we challenge you to create a ripple effect so that we flood the world with our KINDNESS.
P.S. This material is inspired by the information that prof. Ryan Neimiec presents in VIAStrengths youtube channel. The video can be viewed here