Kindness and Generosity: Not Just For the Holidays

You and I aren’t the only people in the world who wonder why kindness and generosity can’t be an everyday thing versus a holiday-affiliated kind of thing. Let’s just review why some noted thinkers believe this should be the case.

Psychologist Lisa FirestonePsychology Today

Generosity reduces stress, supports one’s immune system and enhances one’s sense of purpose…

Generosity is a natural confidence builder and a natural repellent of self-hatred. Not only does it make us feel better about ourselves, but it actively combats feelings of isolation and depression.

The Dalai Lama XIV has said, “Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving-kindness.” Also, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

When pondering what’s paramount in life, Henry James could only think of one thing—but managed to stretch it into three: “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

We’ve all heard it’s better to give than receive—but it it certainly doesn’t have to be in the form of money or material goods. Simone Weil: “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

Kindness and generosity are not only good for the individual but also for couples. This year Emily Esfahani Smith, The Atlantic, interviewed psychologists and married couple John and Julie Gottman, experts who’ve researched what makes relationships successful or not.

They’ve divided couples into “masters” and “disasters.” States Smith: “‘There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,’ [John] Gottman explained in an interview, ‘which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.’”

Whereas contempt is the primary cause of relationship failure, the thing that helps couple stay “masters” is kindness. “Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved,” reports Smith.

Need some ideas about how to practice kindness, whether for your romantic partner, a stranger, a friend, another loved one? Virtues For Life will give you 100. Action For Happiness 40. Tiny Buddha will even give you “4 Ways to Be Kind When You Don’t Feel Like It.”

In a very related vein, there are also plenty of suggestions for how to do generosity. Do a lookup on “how to be generous” and the like and there’s lots to see and try.

One thought on “Kindness and Generosity: Not Just For the Holidays

  1. Thanks for the post. It is always helpful to have a reminder to be kind and generous year-round. Some days it can be hard! 🙂 Last year a young woman started a Facebook page in celebration of her great-grandmother, who passed away at age 89. She dedicated herself to performing 89 acts of kindness. You can follow it on Facebook or at Happy holidays!

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