Kindness Is Always in Season

Do you think you are kind? Although most of us act on kindness and service during the holidays, most don’t make kindness a priority beyond November and December. An NBC News poll showed 62 percent of us believe children aren’t as kind as they used to be. And 77 percent of us think parents are to blame for those declining figures. The poll results show that most parents believe teaching honesty (43 percent) is more important than teaching kindness (29 percent). But 52 percent of those polled believe kindness is an innate quality that doesn’t need to be taught. Although people may not agree on the process of being kind, there’s no doubt the world could use more of it, especially after the holidays are over.

Here are four ways to start practicing kindness and build a positive, happier life all year.

  1. Practice gratitude.

Like most worthwhile tasks, the act of gratitude takes practice. “It’s a practice to take a moment each day to take in natural beauty and reflect on positive events,” says Lori Chandler. “And like all practices, it takes stamina to stick to it.” Not only does showing gratitude improve the life situation for others as well as ourselves, but it’s also good for our health.

Related link: How to add meaning to the holiday season

“Research shows that when we think about what we appreciate, the parasympathetic or calming part of the nervous system is triggered, and that can have protective benefits on the body, including decreasing cortisol levels and perhaps increasing oxytocin, the bonding hormone involved in relationships that make us feel so good,” says Today Health and Wellness contributor Lauren Dunn. Simply identifying three things for which you are grateful will have a profound impact on kindness.

  1. Set new goals every month.

Rather than declaring this broad statement that your commitment to being more kind starts today and shall commence for the rest of your life, try taking smaller steps and reinforce this goal with new personal challenges every month. We come across new things to inspire us every day. And by allowing time to incorporate new things and change strategies when needed, we can continue to take charge of kindness all year.

Related link: 7 Ways seniors can make the new year happy

“We appreciate the efforts our staff makes every day to be patient and kind to those who need their help, saidDebra Koenig RN LNHA, executive director at Fort Dodge Health & Rehabilitation. “We recognize that this time of year can be overwhelming for both our staff and residents, so the kind service and support that they share with each other, regardless of their hectic personal lives, inspires me to be better and try harder all throughout the year.”

  1. Say “yes.”

The foundation for sharing kindness is loving ourselves. Inspired by the book, Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person, written by television producer and creator Shonda Rhimes, saying yes to trying new things, playing instead of working, and placing our happiness as a priority can motivate people to share those positive feelings with others. “When you’re willing to do something uncomfortable, it inspires other people to take action themselves,” says Bernardo Carducci, professor of psychology and director of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast. This act of paying it forward sets the stage for positive change.

  1. Commit to kindness every day.

It’s great to hear that the food bank shelves are filled in December, but what about March? People need to feel love and kindness every day of the year and not just during the holidays. “Kindness is not an ‘extra,” says Harriet Lerner, Ph.D, psychologist and author of Why Won’t You Apologize? “Kindness is at the heart of intimacy, connection, self-respect, and respect for others.”

The truth is the opportunities to be kind during the holidays present themselves all year. We just need to use the same eyes and ears that are so attuned to doing service during the holiday season and choose kindness every day.  “War, natural disasters, politics—you hit a point where you’re looking for positivity, but you don’t always know what to do or where to start,” says Kelsey Gryniewicz of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. “But that’s the power of kindness—it just takes one person, one act. You don’t need money or a ton of time.”

This article was previously published on 39 for Life and republished here with permission.


6 Life-Saving Facts about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

As temperatures fall and people turn their focus to staying warm through the winter, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases. On average, more than 50,000 people visit the emergency room nationwide each year, and 400 die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be very difficult to detect, so it is essential to take preventative measures and know the signs of poisoning. Read more

Volunteering may be for others, but the benefits belong to YOU

There’s a quote going around that says, Volunteers are not paid — not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless. Many people believe their volunteer experiences changed the way they saw the people around them and developed a better appreciation of what they had. It isn’t often that one hour of doing something for others has the power to transform. Yet, it happens every day in a variety of causes. Read more

6 Easy Ways to Feel Gratitude When You’ve Seen It All

When you reach that point in your life when it seems you’ve seen it all and done it double that amount, it’s hard to stay fully aware of the amazing blessings in your life all of the time. But when you stop to think about it, we live in an exciting time where we can compare the knowledge of our lives in the past and marvel at the advancements we enjoy today. So when you find yourself grumbling about the good old days, consider these six blessings and compare them to day’s past. Read more

Don’t Let the Risk of Blood Clots Stall Your Holiday Plans

It’s the start of another holiday season! Before you hit the road with a trunk filled with presents and Bing Crosby queued up, let’s list some of the other important things to remember: Healthy snacks—check. GPS—check. Avoid drowsiness when driving—check. Know the signs of blood clots, huh? Read more

How One Hour Could Save Your Life

October may have been breast cancer awareness month, but anytime is the right time to protect your health. Approximately one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. And the best defense against this disease is to know the risks, recognize the early symptoms, and act on early detection. Read more

Can a Banana a Day Keep the Doctor Away? The Benefits of Potassium

When you see commercials with elite athletes dramatically tearing up the basketball court or drilling long balls to center field, the ever-important question always follows: Is it in you? Well, according to experts—not as much as it should. Doctors say we need 4,700 milligrams daily, but studies show most people aren’t getting enough potassium in their diet. Read more

Flu Season Is Just around the Corner: 5 Things Seniors Should Know

When flu season strikes, it often hits hard and fast. The symptoms can knock a person down, forcing them to spend a week in bed or take a trip to the hospital. Seniors ages 65 and older have a higher risk of severe flu complications, accounting for up to 70 percent of hospitalizations from the virus and up to 85 percent of the deaths each year.

Here are five things you should know about the flu and the flu vaccine this fall. Read more

DASH on over to a Better Diet

The FDA says that Americans consume an average of 3,400 mg of sodium every day. That is more than half the recommended amount by the American Heart Association. And, 90 percent of Americans are eating too much salt. So, that means we are in this mess together. Read more

3 Ways Mobile Technology Is Cool for Seniors

If you think mobile technology is limited to young people — think again. Research shows that four in every ten seniors now own smartphones, and roughly half of older adults who own cell phones have some type of smartphone. But for those who still question the value of mobile technology, here are three ways holding power in the palm of your hand provides benefits for seniors. Read more