What Is Kindness?

Kindness is the act or the state of being kind, being marked by good and charitable behavior, pleasant disposition, and concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as a value in many cultures and religions (see ethics in religion).

Kindness is a type of behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward. Kindness was one of the main topics in the Bible. In Book II of “Rhetoric“, Aristotle defines kindness as “helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped”. Nietzsche considered kindness and love to be the “most curative herbs and agents in human intercourse”. Kindness is considered to be one of the Knightly Virtues. In Meher Baba‘s teachings, God is synonymous with kindness: “God is so kind that it is impossible to imagine His unbounded kindness!” See Kindness Quotes

In religion

  • It is considered to be one of the seven virtues, specifically the one of the Seven Contrary Virtues (direct opposites of the seven deadly sins) that is the direct opposite to envy.
  • The Talmud claims that “deeds of kindness are equal in weight to all the commandments.”
  • Paul of Tarsus characterizes love as being “patient and kind…” (I Corinthians).
  • It is listed as one of the Christian Fruits of the Spirit by Paul of Tarsus in his Letter to the Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
  • In Buddhism, one of the Ten Perfections (Paramitas) is Mettā, which is usually translated into English as “loving-kindness”. Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama wrote “my religion is kindness” and authored a book entitled “Kindness, Clarity, and Insight”.
  • Confucius urges his followers to “recompense kindness with kindness.”
  • Basavanna’s ‘most-quoted saying in Kannada asks, “Where is religion without loving-kindness?”‘.

In philosophy

  • According to book two of Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” it is one of the (see list of emotions), which is defined as being “helpfulness towards some one in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped”.
  • Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that kindness and love are the “most curative herbs and agents in human intercourse”.
  • Kindness is considered to be one of the Knightly Virtues.
Kindness Chalk Handwritten Word Handwriting

Be Kind

In society

In human mating choice, studies suggest that both men and women value kindness and intelligence in their prospective mates, along with physical appearance, attractiveness, social status, and age.

Nice guy

Main article: Nice guy

A “nice guy” is an informal and usually stereotypical term for an (often young) adult male who portrays himself as gentle, compassionate, sensitive, and/or vulnerable. The term is used both positively and negatively. When used positively, and particularly when used as a preference or description by someone else, it is intended to imply a male who puts the needs of others before his own, avoids confrontations, does favors, gives emotional support, tries to stay out of trouble, and generally acts nicely towards others. In the context of a relationship, it may also refer to traits of honesty, loyalty, romanticism, courtesy and respect. When used negatively, a nice guy implies a male who is unassertive, does not express his true feelings and, in the context of dating (in which the term is often used), uses acts of ostensible friendship with the unstated aim of progressing to a romantic or sexual relationship.

Ginger Cat Mushroom Cute Kitten Playful Nice


In psychology

Based on experiments at Yale University using games with babies, some studies concluded that kindness is inherent to human beings. There are similar studies about the root of empathy in infancy – motor mirroring developing in the early months of life, to lead (optimally) to the easy concern shown by children for their peers in distress.

Barbara Taylor and Adam Phillips have stressed the element of necessary realism in adult kindness, as well as the way “real kindness changes people in the doing of it, often in unpredictable ways”.

In psychoanalysis

Analysts warn that ‘real kindness changes people in the doing of it, often in unpredictable ways. Real kindness is an exchange with essentially unpredictable consequences’.

They also argue that, in a relationship, ‘real kindness, real fellow-feeling, entails hating and being hated – that is, really feeling available frustrations – and through this coming to a more real relationship’.

In literature

  • The Tirukkural, an ancient Indian work on ethics and morality, dedicates a separate chapter on kindness (Chapter 8, verses 71–80), furthering the value in other chapters, such as hospitality (verses 81–90), uttering pleasant words (verses 91–100), compassion (verses 241–250), moral vegetarianism (verses 251–260), non-violence (verses 311–320), non-killing (verses 321–330), and benignity (verses 571–580), among others.
  • Mark Twain from a compassion point of view considered “Kindness [as a] language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
  • It has been suggested that ‘most of Shakespeare’s opus could be considered a study of human kindness’.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson considered that ‘the essence of love is kindness; and indeed it may best be defined as passionate kindness: kindness, so to speak, run mad and become importunate and violent’.
  • The Christian apostle Paul lists kindness as one of the nine traits considered to be the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22. In 1 Corinthians 13:4 he states, “Love is patient, love is kind.”

In media

Based on the novel of the same name written in 1999 by the founder Catherine Ryan Hyde, the motion picture Pay it Forward, which starred Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment and Jon Bon Jovi, illustrates the power one person can have to make an impact on a chain reaction of kind deeds. The philosophy of Pay It Forward is that through acts of kindness among strangers, we all foster a more caring society. In the book and film, Reuben St. Clair, a social studies teacher in Atascadero, California, challenges his students to “change the world”. One of his students, Trevor, takes the challenge to heart. He starts by showing kindness to a stranger which ripples further than he could have ever imagined.

In October 2011, Life Vest Inside posted a video called “Kindness Boomerang”. It shows how one act of kindness passes seamlessly from one person to the next and boomerangs back to the person who set it into motion. Orly Wahba, Life Vest Inside Founder and Director of Kindness Boomerang explains that each scene was based on real-life experiences she personally went through; moments of kindness that left a lasting impression on her life. Within several months after its release, Kindness Boomerang went viral; reaching over 20 million people globally and eventually invading Wahba spot on TED2013 stage to speak about the power of kindness.

Singer-songwriter Harry Styles has been promoting kindness since at least 2017 with his slogan ‘Treat People with Kindness’, also abbreviated to ‘TPWK’.

See also

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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