If we choose to be kind and brave when facing others, the world, and ourselves, then we could all be happier. And if we’re all a little bit happier, this world would be a happier place. It’s worth a try, right?
Being happier isn’t just about our own instant gratification, it’s also about what we put out into the world. Just seeing our positive impact on others can already be rewarding enough to bring us true joy. And now suppose we really can be the change we want to see in the world just by making a small adjustment in how we interact everyday.
The continuing negative news about terrorist attacks, wars, refugees, immigrants, questionable leadership, poverty, unfairness, climate change, and random acts of violence, etc. can make us feel so helpless and hopeless. Then those feelings can trigger depression, frustration, fear, anger, intolerance against “the other” and a sense of isolation. In some cases, that can lead back full circle to the kinds of acts that started the negative cycle.
As an individual, you may not be able to prevent any of the big negative events directly. But the one thing we all can do against hatred, violence and disconnection is to be kind and to be brave in our day-to-day interactions. If we’re all a little friendlier, more patient and open-minded with each other, if we are less scared and judgmental of those who are not like us, it makes our day more pleasant, creates a sense of connection and spreads happiness… like “a smile that goes around the world.” < Now please be kind and forgive the cheesiness of that phrase.To be kind and brave as we face others and ourselves may just be the secret to a happier, more fair and less violent world.Click To Tweet
The following might seem obvious to you, but it might be helpful to truly consider these concepts and consciously integrate them into your life.
What Does It Mean to Be Kind?
To be kind is a positive, proactive choice you can make every day in your interactions with others – but also in how you treat yourself. According to Merriam-Webster, to be kind means to be helpful, friendly, sympathetic, forgiving, or gentle. It’s acting from a place of sympathy, patience, tolerance, or forbearance.
What Does It Mean to Be Brave?
To be brave means having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty and to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Obviously, it’s not just about facing physical danger; it’s also about facing what we see as scary or challenging. Maybe not as obvious: it’s not just about daring to do something in the moment, but also to endure over time and get through a situation or feeling that’s unsettling.
How Will This Make Anyone Happier?
To be kind and to be brave leads to happier feelings and experiences in different ways:
- When you’re kind to another person, or face them with courage instead of fear and judgement, the other person will be happier because of your positive actions.
- You will feel happier because you’ve done or said something nice to someone else. Probably they were friendly in their response to you, as well, which in turn makes you feel better. Or you tried or withstood something challenging and can bask in a sense of accomplishment.
- You kept yourself from being rude or scared – feelings which often take a long time to shake off. You stopped a cycle of negativity or frustration in your day.
- You created a sense of connection, maybe even community, between yourself and “the other”. Being part of a community makes us feel good. Also, when we see other people not defined by our differences, but as people like us, our decisions (and votes) affecting other people are more fair.
- Because you were helpful or friendly to someone else, they have been uplifted and will probably be kinder or more courageous when facing the next person or situation – hopefully leading to a third person feeling happier or third positive decision being made, then a fourth, fifth and so on…
Imagine all of us being kinder and braver in our interactions and attitudes. Can you see how this would make us feel more connected and lead to more positive actions by others? How this could create a chain reaction and help make the world a happier place?
To the skeptic: So maybe you changing your attitude and choosing to “Be kind. Be brave. Be happier” will not end wars, famine, injustice and violence. But maybe it can make a bit of a difference… and it will definitely brighten someone’s day, including yours.
In case you’d like a reminder of this concept or spread it further, we’re offering this sticker (part of our new “Make Happier Stickers” series):
5 Researched-Based Reasons to Be Kind (Peter Field, HuffPost)
Why Be Kind? (3 See Films, video)
Why You Should Be Kind to People You Hate (Zat Rana, medium: Personal Growth)
What It Really Means To Be Brave (Kovie Biakolo, Thought Catalog)
How to Be Brave (Gay Norton Edelman, Family Circle)
Happier Place – The What, Why and How (Luci Westphal, GHWP)
We would love to read your stories of when you chose to be kind (maybe even against your first instinct) or to be brave (maybe when approaching someone very different from you or trying something new) and how it made you or someone else happier. Imagine the people you could inspire with your stories to also be kind, be brave and ultimately be and make others happier. It might even come full circle back to you…
So please share your stories in the comment section below.
This post wasn’t purposely timed to be published on 9/11. But once it looked like it might time out that way, we didn’t shy away from publishing on this date. We were living in Brooklyn at the time of the attack – but fortunately were still at home instead of at our jobs in the World Financial Center and across the street from the World Trade Center. Just as fortunate is that we didn’t lose anyone. We are lucky. We are grateful.
Still, the event and what followed had a big impact on us. One aspect of what followed even has some beauty to it. While so many people around the country were eager to retaliate and start a war with whomever they deemed responsible for the terror attack, many (maybe most?) of us in New York didn’t want any more violence and went onto the streets to demonstrate for peace and tolerance. It was a time when we felt that we had seen the price of hatred, fear and closed-mindedness and realized that fighting those mindsets with more violence would only feed them, not eliminate them or change them into something positive. The violence, loss and devastation of the 9/11 attack taught us to believe in a peaceful, non-violent response and to try facing the world with kindness and courage.