How to be nicer, according to experts; start small, do it now and listen right

Are you really nice? And, more importantly, could you be nicer? Kindness is the latest quality in the analytical spotlight after attempts to measure happiness hit the headlines more than two decades ago.

Psychologists at the University of Sussex have launched The Kindness Test, in partnership with the BBC, to explore people’s attitudes and gain new knowledge to help illuminate what is a rapidly growing field of study.

Researchers want to know what was a person’s last act of kindness, where it took place, and who was responsible for it.

If you’ve paused for more than a millisecond to think about your answer, you might need a few tips to make kindness more of a second nature.

I sought advice from several wellness and caring experts. Lynne Misner, executive director and founder of Small Acts of Kindness, a charity that reduces loneliness and isolation for seniors, believes people need to remember that it’s okay to start small.

She is looking for a quote from Aesop, in her fable of The lion and the mouse, who wrote: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

She adds: “Our advice is to never forget that even the smallest gesture of kindness can make a huge difference, both for the recipient and for the donor. “

A new initiative from the Wild At Heart Foundation, a global charity that works to reduce the world’s 600 million stray dogs through rescue, adoption and sterilization, seeks to bring schoolchildren to be more kind and caring more about animals.

Rachel Hudson, head of the foundation’s education campaign, is launching the Be Kind program in schools this term. She says being kind can be as easy as being compassionate.

“It’s important to remember that we all have different backgrounds and backgrounds, which can affect how we feel in certain situations, so take some time to think about what others might be feeling and offer to listen to any. person who might need an ear. “

She adds, “Our ‘Be Kind’ school program enables young people to explore and better understand the symbiotic relationship between dogs and our own positive mental well-being, while encouraging the development of empathy, compassion, kindness and understanding. We believe these key skills will be retained throughout their lifetimes, creating a generation that treats all humans and animals with kindness, including themselves. “

David Crepaz-Keay, head of applied learning at the Mental Health Foundation, says it’s nice to pay more attention to people. “One thing we could all do to be nicer is make an effort to really listen and focus all of our attention on other people when we talk to them. It can make them feel loved and it can also improve our relationship with them over time which is good for them and for us as well.
“Research suggests that giving and receiving kindness is good for our mental health. “

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” (Photo: Richard Drury / Getty)

There is a virtuous circle at work here: “By helping us feel better about ourselves, it can also help us to be kinder to others.

Nicole Philips, host of The Kindness Podcast, who wrote The Cure for Negativity: Releasing More Joy, Less Stress, and Better Relationships Through Kindness, says we may have trouble noticing that others need us to be nice if we’re constantly too busy.

“Think about what you are thinking. If you’re performing too well, put an alert on your phone to remind yourself regularly to stop and check your thoughts, ”she says.

“When our minds revolve around our to-do lists, fear of the latest news headline or negative thoughts about ourselves or others, we don’t have the brain space to notice kindness. . We’re too focused on the interior, and we end up missing the thoughtfulness of our colleague filling up the coffee maker or the car that let us go first.

“The countless ways in which we can quickly bring joy to others are also missed by a word, a smile or a small deed. Removing junk from our mind creates a creative space to think about an act of kindness that might please other people.

Finally, try cultivating instant generosity, a tip from Oliver Burkeman, author of the new book Four thousand weeks: time and how to use it, who attributes the idea to meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein.

“Whenever a generous impulse comes to your mind – donate money, make contact with a friend, send an email praising someone’s work – act on the impulse immediately, rather than postpone it until later.

“We tell ourselves that we’ll come back to it when our urgent work is done, or we have enough free time to do it really well; or that we should first spend a little more time researching the best recipients of our charitable donations before making them, et cetera.

“But the only donations that matter are the ones you are about to give. And while your coworker may appreciate a well-worded praise message more than a hastily-written message, the latter is far better than what is really most likely to happen if you push it away, which is you will never be able to send this message. .

“It all takes an initial effort, but as Goldstein observes, the most selfish rewards are immediate, because generous action reliably makes you much happier.”

The cuteness test can be found at collegeofsussex.eu.qualtrics.com

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