Kindness Acts Give Back To You!
Why are we kind to others, and is it selfish to gain something for ourselves by being kind? This is a loaded question and the answer is complex. However, it’s really all about your perspective.
Kindness Acts – What Are They?
On some level, being kind is just the opposite of being cruel. Whenever we choose to not harm someone else, we’re choosing kindness.
Beyond that, acts of kindness include charitable giving, being a friend to someone in need, truly listening, and raising people up. Inspiring others is an act of kindness. So is sharing openly because it creates a bond with others.
Kindness Acts – Unconditional vs Conditional
What does it really mean to be unconditionally kind? It means not expecting anything back when we do something nice or that costs us something. However, being kind often costs us absolutely nothing. Furthermore, most of the time it feels good to be kind and that means we’re getting something out of our kindness acts.
Does that make them selfish? Not necessarily and here’s why.
How Self Love And Kindness Relate
If you love and value yourself, you believe that feeling good is important. You’re positive about doing things that affirm your core values and reflect, nurture, and strengthen your higher self. We don’t think that’s selfish because making these choices consistently makes you a better person.
We believe that people who feel good do good.
Therefore, the better you feel, the more likely you are to keep doing good.
When Kindness Acts Are “Bad”
Being kind is never really bad, however, if you expect something from others when you give to them you risk sliding into potentially toxic behavior.
It isn’t quite the same when you simply enjoy the positive feelings you get from being kind as it is when you only act kind because you’re anticipating a certain reaction from the recipient.
Let’s use an example to illustrate what we’re getting at.
If you meet someone you like and you help them with their errands because you enjoy spending time together and helping makes you feel good, that’s awesome. It’s a win/win situation. No one was taken advantage of and both people in the exchange feel great.
If you only help them run errands because you expect they’ll like you in return and you feel angry or disappointed when they don’t, this is a behavior you want to examine. While it’s natural to feel taken advantage of when someone doesn’t appreciate your kindness, this is an opportunity to remember why you’re kind in the first place.
A wise man once said, ‘you can’t take advantage of me because I give my advantage away.’
This is an incredible prompt for self-work, especially if you feel disgruntled after helping someone.
How Being Kind Helps You
According to an article at the Clevland Clinic’s website, giving actually improves our health.
The article cites studies that show benefits including improved self-esteem, a happier mindset, a decrease in depression, lowered blood pressure and even longer life.
It also talks about a concept known as the ‘helper’s high.’ You’re probably familiar with the awesome feeling you get when you give meaningfully to others. That’s biological, not something you have to feel guilty about.
Giving creates some of the same brain activity as other pleasurable experiences. Givers experience an endorphin rush, an increase in serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, which are all biochemicals that make us feel great.
Overall, these chemicals combat stress and depression so there may be a lasting effect for people who give regularly.
Give More, Feel Great
Only you know the true motives behind why you give and what inspires your desire to be kind. However, we feel that too many people needlessly worry about ‘selfishness’ when their motivation is that giving makes them feel great. That’s natural and not something to beat yourself up about!
In fact, the next time a negative Nancy type tells you that ‘human nature’ dictates a dog-eat-dog mentality, ask them why our brains secrete a biochemical feel good drip when we help others. It seems like being kind might have an evolutionary benefit, doesn’t it?
If you find yourself giving to get something in return from the person you give to, that warrants closer inspection. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, do some inner work that dives into why you feel this way. Brainstorm ways to think differently about your giving acts. Meditate on the topic and see what arises from deep within yourself.
Most of all, don’t stop giving! It’s an amazing way to help yourself and others at the same time.