October 20, 2022
Writers: John Alvin Tapia, Hannah Tuballa
Researcher: John Alvin Tapia, Hannah Tuballa
Editor: Richardson dR Mojica
Peer Reviewer: Alvin Joseph Mapoy
Graphics: Krystle Mae Labio, Jacklyn Moral
Tweetchat Moderators: Marianne Lorrice Apostol, Marc John Paul Agbuya
Spaces Moderators: Bill Fuentes, Lemuel Gallogo, Richardson Mojica
Living with Kindness
Despite how simple the word is, kindness is an act that has the most significant impact on a person’s life. Merriam-Webster defines kindness as “the quality or state of being kind” . Kindness is choosing to do something that helps others or yourself, motivated by genuine warm feelings. Doing good often means putting other people’s needs before our own . It could be by giving up our seats on a bus to someone who might need it more or offering to make a cup of tea for someone at work .
While some may encounter difficulty initiating acts of kindness towards others, perhaps even arguing that it may not come naturally to you, a study published by the American Psychological Association argues against this. The study shows that kindness has its roots in altruism, a vital form of human behavior which has allowed us to evolve and survive across generations . This finding reveals that being kind and showing kindness played an essential role in the evolution and survival of humankind as we know it. Not only did kindness help in cultivating relationships among various communities, but it also allowed us to progress to where we are today. As grandiose as this may sound, this should not take us away from the fact that kindness and being kind is a simple yet paramount trait that continues to make the world a much better place to be in.
In fact, we do not even need to look that far – take Filipinos, for example. See how the spirit of bayanihan and acts of selflessness usually come around, especially during times of trouble and crisis. How strangers take time out of their days to volunteer with relief operations, how communities come together to create shared pantries, and how various individuals offer free services to those in need. Kindness is not a foreign concept to Filipinos. The father of Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Filipino Psychology), Virgilio Gaspar Enriquez himself, acknowledges this as a trait we value among many other communities and other-centric qualities in our collective cultural identity . We see this in how we recognize our bayani or national heroes for their selfless acts of kindness for the country.
In relation to that, one example of kindness is the one shown on BBC news which featured a seven-year-old boy named Jacob who raised funds to help a hospice that cared for his mom. This act of a seven-year-old boy shows that even at a young age, you can show kindness to others.
Kindness to others and its importance
You may be familiar with the saying, “It is better to give than to receive.” People who are kind and compassionate can see the benefits of it to their well-being. Being kind to others makes us experience positive mental and physical changes in the body by lowering our stress levels and releasing happy hormones whenever we do good. Being kind also helps boost our immune system and aids in reducing our anxiety. Aside from these, doing random acts of kindness sets aside its benefits – not that these should be our primary motivation behind being kind. But some of these benefits are as follows :
Helps make us feel good. By doing well to others, our body releases dopamine, also known as the happy hormones, which makes us feel rewarded after doing good.
Boosts our immune system. When we do well to others, the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters activates areas in our immune system, which aid in boosting it.
Provides a sense of fulfillment. Doing well provides us with a sense of pride and purpose, especially when done with no hidden or underlying intent.
Improves our self-esteem. Kindness, as a form of prosocial behavior, helps increase our self-esteem by boosting empathic behavior, thus providing us with a more positive self-image and self-concept.
Makes the world a better place to live in. Being in a world full of love, compassion, and selfless kindness makes a living in it worthwhile. Living in an environment wherein people constantly seek to do good to others and one another makes for an inspiring and positive world.
As Harold Kushner said, “When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, but it changes the world.” 
Giving out kindness
Showing kindness to others does not need to be life-changing. Sometimes a small act is enough to show kindness to others. This small act sometimes has the greatest impact on others. Helping others does not require tremendous effort as long as we know the opportunity to be kind. We need to open up our hearts to be aware of this. We cannot do or see kindness if we are letting our egos, such as being prideful, manifest within ourselves. Helping others need not be judgmental. We have no right to judge others based on their situations.
Furthermore, our actions in helping others must be pure and with no hidden intentions. When there is ill will behind the action, it is not considered kindness. Our help must be unconditional. We should never expect anything in return when helping others.
As Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, said: “The true essence of humankind is kindness. There are other qualities which come from education or knowledge, but it is essential if one wishes to be a genuine human being and impart satisfying meaning to one’s existence, to have a good heart.” 
Mental Health and Kindness during times of difficulty
Now, more than ever, we are being called to extend even greater kindness towards others and ourselves. During moments of immense suffering, loneliness, and helplessness brought about by events that are out of our control, the one thing we can exert control over is how we treat others and ourselves. When everything around us becomes too difficult, and we start to experience a roadblock in what it is that we can do for others, we must never forget to be kind and express compassion to ourselves. Being mindful of our own limitations and working around these will allow us to be of the best help to others.
Remember that kindness to one’s self will allow for a more authentic kindness to others. While it may sound worthwhile and easy to constantly exert kindness to others, we must understand that there are also limitations on what we can do. In such a way, we can prevent ourselves from burning out and developing negative feelings, which may spiral us into having poor mental health.
During the height of the pandemic in early 2020, over 5,000 Filipinos experienced mental health concerns which led them to overwhelm the crisis lines of the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) . This was during the time when almost everyone was forced to stay within the walls of their homes, and face-to-face interactions were strictly controlled. This period exposed the fragility of the nation’s tools to aid with collective mental health and the growing need for safer spaces within the country. With the question of how accessible mental health services are currently faring in the country, we’re all being reminded to be kind to others and ourselves . We do not know what today has brought to someone or what tomorrow will bring to everyone else. In these fleeting moments of everyday encounters, do your best to extend a little love to those around you, not expecting anything in return.
It does not take much to be kind today and every day going forward. Let us always remember to live kindly, as a world where everyone chooses to live kindly is a much more livable one.
Word Search – Kindness and other synonyms
Why do you think it is important to be kind?
In what ways can you show kindness to others?
How can we begin cultivating kinder communities?
Challenge yourself to do 5 acts of kindness to others in the next days.
- Merriam Webster. (n.d). Kindness. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kindness
- Mental Health Foundation. (n.d). Kindness matters guide. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/kindness/kindness-matters-guide
- Knafo, A., & Israel, S. (2012). Empathy, prosocial behavior, and other aspects of kindness. In M. Zentner & R. L. Shiner (Eds.), Handbook of temperament, 168–179. The Guilford Press.
- Macapagal, M.A., Ofreneo, M.A., Montiel, C., & Nolasco, J. (2013). Social Psychology in the Philippine Context. Quezon City. Ateneo de Manila University Press.
- A seven year old Leeds boy’s RAF award for walking Challenges. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leeds-59024523
- Kushner, H. (n.d.). A-Z Quotes. https://www.azquotes.com/quote/556976
- Gyatso, T. (n.d). Dalai Lama XIV. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/730011-the-true-essence-of-humankind-is-kindness-there-are-other
- Tomacruz, S. (2020, August 26). Over 5,000 Filipinos flood national mental health hotlines during pandemic. Rappler. https://www.rappler.com/nation/filipinos-flood-national-mental-health-hotlines-coronavirus-pandemic/
- Omenga, O. (2021, May 22). Filipinos face the mental toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rappler. https://www.rappler.com/nation/photo-essay-filipinos-mental-toll-pressure-fatigue-covid-19-pandemic/)