I know you have seen the horrible videos of people fighting over toilet paper, hoarding food and water, and the horrible incident about unruly passengers on a plane causing the plane to make an emergency landing because someone coughed or sneezed.
Have we all lost our manners? Have we all disregarded human decency? Have we forgotten how to be kind to one another (even when it’s not the holidays)?
The Coronavirus is serious and causing a tremendous amount of concern, but now more than ever is the time to train or retrain our brain to press the play button on kindness.
Being kinder is not about making sacrifices or denying your own needs. Treating people kindly should not be an imposition or another task on your checklist. It should be a lifestyle.
It’s the outward manifestation of living positively. Kindness is all about mindset, and you can train your brain to make kindness almost automatic. Ever notice that being kind to someone makes you feel good too? It’s because altruism promotes a chemical reaction in your brain, releasing serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine. These chemicals not only make you feel good but also work to reinforce positive social behavior. By laying down new neural pathways, you set yourself up for living a positive, kinder life.
Here are some scientifically proven tips for engineering kindness into your brain.
1. Choose to be kind
Choosing kindness is a decision! You don’t need a quorum or a vote you just decide! In choosing to be kind, you are consciously resetting your mindset to treat people with compassion and empathy. Notice the effect of your kindness on others. When you smile, people’s natural reaction is to smile back. You set up a kindness loop that keeps on paying itself forward! Choosing to be kind, regardless of your mood, can even turn a cranky day into a happier one. Your brain receives the message that all is well, and before you know it you’ll be feeling more cheerful.
2. Turn Kindness into Action.
Studies have shown that carrying out five random acts of kindness every week is the single most effective way of increasing your happiness. Anything from buying a pay it forwards coffee, to letting another driver into the traffic, or mowing your neighbor’s lawn will make you and the other guy feel good. Even sharing some of that tissue or water you’re hoarding.
3. Be kind to yourself.
Self-kindness starts with noticing your self-talk. Are you encouraging or judging?
Do you start from a position of ‘yes you can’ or ‘you’ll never do it’? Are you increasing your anxiety and worry? Pay attention to that voice in your head, and change the script to kindness. You deserve it! Build little acts of self-care into your day. Reward successes, big and small. Take time to do the things that make you feel good. Make sure you get enough sleep, stay hydrated, and have a nutritious diet.
4. Practice gratitude
Make it a daily practice to count your blessings. Research has shown that people are happier when they notice the good things in their lives and practice gratitude. The outcome is so marked that it changes your brain structure! Brain scans have shown the effect of mindfulness and gratitude. The parts of the brain associated with stress shrink, while the regions associated with self-awareness and compassion grow.