In today’s hustle and bustle of school, sports and social time, it’s easy to move through the day disconnected from our capacity as humans to be kind and caring. This ability to feel and express kindness, toward yourself and others, is an essential trait that will help contribute to your personal and professional success. Modern research has proven that kindness and compassion are linked to increased peer acceptance, improved academic performance, and positive mental health. 

Kindness is an act of treating others with respect, compassion, and care. Showing kindness can be something as simple as smiling at another person as they walk past you, listening to a sibling vent about their hard day, or standing up for someone if they are being bullied. These types of actions may seem small, but they have the ability to brighten a person’s day. You can also volunteer at a local animal shelter or serve meals at a homeless shelter. These, too, are acts of kindness.  In kindness, a person may feel sorry for some person but not necessarily reflect the suffering person’s feelings.

Compassion is an emotional response of sympathy. Because we have compassion, we not only want to take action and help, but we also feel the similar emotion to our friend who is suffering. In other words, because we feel compassion toward our friend who just lost their dog, we may act in kindness by giving them a hug or taking them out for lunch to talk. Whereas kindness is something we “do”, compassion is something we “feel”.

At some point, each of us must learn that life does not always go the way we want it to. Losses will occur, mistakes will happen, friends will disappoint, and we will bump up against our own limitations. When we learn to show kindness or compassion toward ourselves and others, we learn to become more accepting, empowered and resilient through life through and all of its challenges.