Kindness for the Health of It

Each year my friend Sam Juliano takes a book-by-book look at Caldecott Medal contenders and pens engaging reviews. One of his recent posts showcased Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain written by Jacqueline Jules with illustrations by Durga Yael Bernhard.

The captivating story offers a powerful global message that for me brought to mind the Dalai Lama’s statement: “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

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Numerous scientific studies correlate kindness with physical and mental health benefits:

  • Decreased intensity and awareness of physical pain.
  • Enhanced emotional resilience.
  • Increased sense of optimism and self-worth.
  • Strengthened immune system.
  • Reduced incidence of high blood pressure.

Kindness begets kindness.” — Greek proverb

Have you been a recent recipient of kindness?

© Laurie Buchanan

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56 thoughts on “Kindness for the Health of It

  1. Just had a glance at the post by Jacqueline, seems very nice. I shall read it more in detail once I’m back home after work. I do agree with you regarding kindness – the immense happiness we can experience upon being kind. Its always a good feeling.

  2. I was a recipient of kindness in October when I drove my daughter and granddaughter to a medical appointment at a huge hospital. I had to drop my daughter and the baby off at the hospital entrance and then navigate my way to a massive parking garage. City traffic is very intimidating to me. After the appointment I found my way back to the car all right, but by the time I followed all the signs zig-zagging to the exit of the garage I was totally confused and disoriented and had no idea which way to turn as I drove out of the garage.

    So I asked the man at the ticket booth, “Would you please tell me which way I should turn to get back to the Women’s Hospital?” I expected a simple answer, like “left” or “right.” But instead he acted like he had all the time in the world: “Why of course, ma’am. You take a left out of here and get into the middle lane. When you come to the traffic light go straight from that lane and after you go through the light get into the right lane. When you’re at the light you will see the hospital ahead of you at the top of the hill.” I thanked him profusely and headed out with renewed confidence and gratitude. The man probably gets that question a hundred times a day and yet he answered so patiently, so kindly. His kindness made my day!

    • Barbara — I love the story you shared about the kindness of the parking garage attendant. His kind, patient, and detailed directions served to bolster your courage when sorely needed. Blessings to him!

  3. I feel drenched in grace everyday by the kindness of others. Every time I walk into our hall bathroom I see an etching son Joel made for me with a quote from Aesop: “No act of kindness however small is ever wasted.”

    Just yesterday I read somewhere that giving or receiving kindness releases the hormone oxytocin into the body (not to be confused with Oxycontin!) to promote good health, reinforcing one of your 5 points. Always spreading the kind and good, that’s you, Laurie.

    • Marian — I well remember the quote you shared from Aesop’s beloved story, The Lion and the Mouse.

      Way back in the day when I was in reflexology school, one of the most important things we were taught was where the neurological reflex points for releasing oxytocin are on the feet.

      Why? Because the hormone oxytocin not only helps us to bond with others, it’s associated with our ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships.

  4. On a recent trip to a hospital E.R. I was treated with kindness and dignity at every turn. I was surprised as that has not always been standard procedure at this particular facility. It transformed a frightening experience into one of reassuring calmness. Love your Header Photo!

    • Sandi — I’m grateful you were treated with kindness; it makes all the difference in the world!

      I took the header photo at the Idaho Botanical Garden last April when we first arrived in Boise. I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to use it. I took the “gong” photo the same day. Lucky us, the botanic garden is a lovely, less-than-two-mile walk from our house 🙂

  5. Great post Laurie, and something I pray to remember. Yesterday the assistant manager of my apartment community was so kind as to check the gym for me and found my winter scarf was there and she is holding it for me in her office. It is a scarf I use the most to keep me warm in winter.

  6. I can not believe how much kindness oozes from West Wales Laurie . It’s a natural practice here to help anyone .

    I can remember feeling really down some years ago and I decided to go out for a walk because it always lifts spirits and I saw a neighbour that I hadn’t spoke to much in the past. I remember her smiling and we chatted together for a while …it made me feel alive . If only that lovely lady knew what those few kind words did that day .

    Kindness is the magic ingredient for happiness .

    Cherryx

  7. My guy brings me my hot tea latte every morning – a kindness that always starts my day perfectly.
    I try to exude and deliver kindness every day. One of the easiest ways to do that is to smile at strangers. 🙂

    • Roughwighting — Oh my gosh, how thoughtful is that?! You’re right, a perfect way to start the day!

      And you’re right, there’s tremendous value in a smile. Hard to quantify, we’ll probably never know the true positive impact they make each and every time we give one away 🙂

  8. Coloca a bondade como a base de sua vida, como uma medida de justiça, a sabedoria como um limite, o amor como prazer e a verdade como a luz.
    ( Peter Deunov )

    • Vraie — Se eu traduzir isso corretamente, eu acredito que você escreveu:

      Puts the goodness as the basis of his life, as a measure of justice, wisdom as a limit, the love as pleasure and the truth as the light.

      Muito obrigado pelo seu amável comentário.

  9. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t receive kindness — a helping hand, a supportive word, a warm smile. But some how they are so easily overlooked and what I focus on are the cold shoulders, the slights.
    Thank you for reminding me to focus on what is truly important, Laurie. For, after all, what you focus on grows.

  10. There are lessons in both giving and receiving kindness. The Dalai Lama’s words are spot on and if everyone worked un kindness, our world would be a better place.

  11. Hi Laurie

    I am the recipient of many kindnesses from Ailsa every day.
    I have been the recipient of many kindnesses over the years, many from you, and others here. Some of the kindnesses have been very timely and have had huge impact on my life.

    I can only agree with the Dalai Lama, and often it is a far from trivial problem. There are so many different ways of interpreting everything, that one person’s intention of kindness can often be interpreted by another as something else. Many people are so stuck in power and control modes of thought, in social hierarchies at some level, that all attempts at kindness are interpreted through a dominance filter as some form of subtle control strategy, and are rejected as such.
    So often kindness just sort of “bounces off” the recipient, which can be frustrating.

    It seems that there is a potentially infinite class of possible interpretive schema, and it appears possible to misinterpret any word or action if the interpretive schemas in use by the people involved are sufficiently different.

    And I agree, that kindness has its own rewards, even of the recipient just doesn’t get it for what it is.

    I put all my medical records, and all of what I have done in my battle with cancer, on my blog (www.tedhowardnz.wordpress.com), free for all, as a general kindness to others. There are no guarantees with anything biological, and what I did worked for me, repeatedly, and seems to work for most of those that actually do it (rather than just trying it occasionally and cheating most of the time).

    We are strange things – human beings. We have culture that values fakery – we hold actors in the highest esteem.
    We hide our creativity and greatness.
    We are like trained fleas, put in a matchbox as children and taught we cannot jump without hurting our head, and then most rarely if ever jump again in later life. We are all capable of jumps of creativity and understanding that can transform our cultural existence, yet we pretend we are helpless and powerless, because by doing so we are relatively safe from social stigma.

    We can all make a difference, every day.
    We can all choose acts of kindness, to ourselves, to our family, our communities, to humanity generally, the ecosystems we rely on.
    Every little choice does have a real impact.
    All those little impacts do add up.
    The combined sum of all those little ripples can be a massive wave.

    • Ted — The thought-filled word picture you painted triggered something I’ve said before, but bears repeating: you need to write a book! Further, I agree with your assessment that “Every little choice does have a real impact.” I tell my clients weekly that individual choices have universal consequences.

  12. I love that quote from His Holiness also, Laurie. And when I wrote my childhood memoir, one of the questions I asked was “who showed me kindness, and taught me kindness, and how did they do it?” I came up with a very long list!

    Every grandparent has a wonderful opportunity to reflect, learn, and maybe even add to the amount of kindness he or she was shown.

    You spread kindness so well with this blog, Laurie. Thank you.

    • Shirley — What a wonderful set of questions to ask yourself as you wrote BLUSH: A MENNONITE GIRL MEETS A GLITTERING WORLD.

      You bring up a wonderful point in grandparents and the influence of kindness we can have on our grandchildren. A wonderful way to trigger a positive ripple effect 🙂

  13. I have indeed Laurie. many times, and from people in all walks of life. As Charlie Chaplin says in that famous final speech in THE GREAT DICTATOR, it is people’s natural disposition to be kind to others. Sad to say we hear too much about the small minority who are not kind to your fellow man. Kindness of course starts in the home and I’d like to think it flows naturally. I am so thrilled that you highlighted Jacqueline and Durga’s book, and that timeless message!! Thank you so much!!!! Your kindness is always above and beyond!!

    • Sam — Like you, I believe that kindness starts in the home, a place we can nurture and cultivate it before it “walks out the door” to meet the rest of the world.

      I couldn’t pass up sharing NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN. Many thanks goes to you because I would never have known of it without your wonderful post. Thank you! 🙂

  14. Laurie,
    I know how nuts this will probably sound, but all during my year of divorce my mantra was Kindness Rules – I said it many times to my ex as we worked out the settlement. I said it many times to my grown kids – no other parent bashing – kindness rules. It certainly helped!

    Now I am blessed by knowing a man who is THE kindest person I have EVER met. He is so kind and gentle and sweet, it feels like I’ve been given the candy store after years of dreaming about it!

    Still looking for my Buddha bowl!
    Susan

  15. I am a recipient of kindness every day. I see kindness everywhere – when someone lets me out on the busy street or stops the long line of traffic to let me turn left into a parking lot, when someone lets me go in front of them in the check out line because I only have one or two items, when the gas station guy asks about my son and how he’s doing and so many other small things that too often others fail to notice

  16. “Kindness begets kindness.” I think so many of us (as judged by all of the responses above) feel that way. Sometimes it’s just some little thing–a person smiling and saying hello or paying you a compliment–that makes a day feel special and better.

  17. I find that when I show kindness to others, it returns to me many times over. I am now blessed with numerous demonstrations of kindness from my friends, from strangers and from the Universe. We do indeed reap what we sow. Blessings Laurie.

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