Kindling Compassion: World Kindness Day

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Image courtesy of Renee Bigelow

World Kindness Day is celebrated globally every year on November 13th.

Diane Kim

A single compliment can go a long way. Compliments, whether received today or a while back, can stick around in the memory for years. A few kind messages and uplifting words not only have the ability to positively change someone’s mood, but their outlook on life. World Kindness Day was created in this spirit.

World Kindness Day is celebrated globally every year on November 13th. The holiday was created by the World Kindness Movement, an organization grounded in making global connections with every part of the world. The World Kindness Movement’s mission is “to inspire individuals and connect nations to create a kinder world.” Promoting this message, the day celebrates the idea that kindness can be demonstrated and shared with anyone: family, friends, or even strangers.

Established in 1997, the organization came to life after a conference held in Japan where other global organizations promoting kindness were brought together. Since then, the World Kindness Movement has only expanded and furthered its goals, with council meetings being held worldwide to address and set up programs around spreading a warm-hearted influence. Members of the movement partake in planning kindness projects which surround the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, attacking problems such as hunger and poverty. With these key ideas in mind, the World Kindness Movement hopes to build a brighter future and world for all people, regardless of their age, race, gender, or disabilities. 

In its countless different forms, kindness has proven benefits ranging from positive effects on emotional, mental, and even physical health. According to Medical Daily, research conducted at Japanese institutions found that a certain area in the brain is activated when receiving a compliment. Called the striatum, this part of the brain functions in a mentally motivating way, encouraging individuals to feel better about their lives. Compliments and kind acts could therefore allow someone to take care of their bodies or even be motivated to live a more balanced lifestyle. With scientific research proving the beneficial effect of thoughtful acts on the brain, it becomes apparent that being considerate of others can considerably impact their health. According to Cedars Senai, receiving kindness triggers and releases chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. This set of “happy chemicals” can uplift one’s mood and help form social trust. Though there might be simplicity in a small act of kindness, it triggers the scientific wonders and emotional complexities of the brain which can ease mental health related issues such as depression and anxiety.

Despite its benefits, the power of kindness is often overlooked in the world today. It appears common online to feel that kindness or instances of friendliness are rare, especially from strangers. Many articles ask this question on why it seems kindness has decreased. According to Legacy.com, the shift in culture, especially around decreased connectivity and in-person contact due to technology, seems to be the issue. Other websites mention greed or change in societal values. Despite the possible reasons for the issue, organizations and foundations like Random Acts of Kindness do not focus on analyzing the sources of problems, but on improving as an even more loving, connected society, to make “kindness the norm.” The more kindness is practiced, the more it expands to communities and influences others’ behavior. 

Kindness is defined differently for every person. To the World Kindness Movement, “Kindness is the ability to share a space, projects and common dreams.” Following a similar outlook, Random Acts of Kindness provides plenty of examples and situations on their website that one can use to connect with their community every November 13th. This year, JetBlue Airlines celebrated the day by donating millions of miles to charity. At Dennis Township Primary School, kindergarteners made toys for pets in shelters. The Habitat for Humanity organization set up a donation drive to build homes. Like these group efforts, individual acts of kindness also equally create meaningfully positive impacts. Using a talent to make and share art is one way to show care for others, while another might be talking to the new kid at school. Drinking water or planting a tree are also ways to practice kindness towards oneself or the environment. Next time November 13th rolls around, consider shifting to an extra compassionate attitude. Even better is to practice World Kindness Day, everyday.