The Power of Kindness for Mental Wellbeing

As we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to forget the profound impact that a simple act of kindness can have; not only on others, but for our own mental well-being. In this blog, we will explore the power of kindness as a tool for enhancing our overall happiness and well-being, starting with a smile! 


Researchers have proven that intentionally exercising the muscles we use to smile (the zygomaticus major muscle and orbicularis oculi muscle) can actually make us feel better. When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back into the brain, stimulating our internal reward system. This signal sees the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and endorphins which work to reduce our stress levels and even relieve pain at a minor level. The smile doesn’t have to be connected to any particular emotion – essentially, smiling can ‘trick’ our brains into happiness as the simple act of activating these muscles can legitimately reduce stress and lower our heartrates.  


Smiling is also highly contagious. In a review of emotional mirroring published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences (2016), social psychologists found that people in social situations simulate others’ facial expressions to create emotional responses in themselves. These small acts of kindness therefore create ripple effects that extend far beyond the initial interaction. Moreover, research has shown that engaging in acts of kindness triggers a cascade of positive emotions. The joy we feel when we make someone else smile or brighten their day contributes significantly to our own sense of well-being. In other words, kindness is a two-way street that benefits both the giver and the receiver. 


Kindness isn't just about making someone smile in the moment; it also offers a profound sense of purpose and connection. When we engage in acts of kindness, we tap into our innate desire to make a positive impact on the world around us. This sense of purpose can be a powerful buffer against feelings of loneliness and depression. Furthermore, kindness fosters connections with others. It strengthens our relationships, whether they're with friends, family, or even strangers. These connections provide us with a valuable support network that can help us navigate life's ups and downs with greater resilience. 


The beauty of kindness is that it doesn't have to be grand or extravagant. It's the small, everyday acts that often make the most significant difference. Here are some simple ways to incorporate kindness into your daily life: 


  1. Start your day with a smile: We’ve already discussed the psychological benefits of smiling – starting your day with this simple gesture can really brighten up your morning.

  2. Express gratitude: Take a moment to thank those around you, whether it's your partner, co-worker, or the barista who makes your morning coffee. 

  3. Practice active listening: Give your full attention when someone is speaking to you. Listening empathetically is a powerful form of kindness. 

  4. Offer help: If you see someone struggling with a heavy load or a task, offer your assistance. Your willingness to help can make a world of difference. 

  5. Random acts of kindness: Surprise someone with a small gift, a handwritten note, or a kind message. These unexpected gestures can have a lasting impact. 


In conclusion, kindness is not only a beautiful gift we give to others, but it's also a powerful tool for enhancing our own mental health and well-being. So, let's strive to be the reason someone smiles today; knowing that, in doing, so we're nurturing our own happiness and creating a brighter, more compassionate world for us all to live in.