The Power to Change the World
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Kindness has the power to change the world and, just as important, kindness begins in your family. Sharing kindness with our spouse and children spurs them to spread kindness to those outside the home as well. It might just induce a ripple effect of kindness spreading through the community. Perhaps you don’t believe kindness can have this type of power. I too thought it sounded too good to be true. How could kindness, let alone kindness displayed simply within the family, have the power to save the whole world? But then I began to explore the possibility. Take a moment and consider some of what I discovered.
Family relationships are built upon small daily interactions. These interactions can be marked by kindness or not. Kind interactions communicate love and delight, adoration and appreciation for one another. This translates into relationships founded on trust, security, and safety—what researchers label as a secure attachment. In other words, daily acts of kindness help to build a secure and that secure attachment impacts how people navigate the world. In fact, researchers have found that prompting people to recall memories of healthy family relationships based on daily acts of kindness (a secure attachment), led them to treat others with greater kindness. Specifically,
- They expressed fewer negative stereotypes about other people and voiced fewer negative emotions about other people. They also expressed less support for aggressive actions toward others.
- They reported less intense negative reactions to people outside “our group.”
- Recalling memories of secure attachments eliminated the “effects of threat” to a person’s self-esteem posed by those with different views and increased the person’s willingness to interact with those outside “their group.”
- It also lessened their negative response to people who posed a threat to their cultural worldview.
- Recalling memories of healthy family relationships built on kindness (a secure attachment) led to an increased use of “self-transcendence values” like understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protecting and enhancing the welfare of others.
- It also provided a foundation for compassion and caregiving behaviors.
- And, it contributed to reporting a greater willingness to engage in, and then actually engaging in, more selfless and prosocial behaviors.
These studies suggest that the small daily acts of kindness that contribute to a secure attachment can change the world. What are those small daily acts of kindness?
- Showing delight in your family member. Greeting them with a smile reveals how glad you are to see them.
- Expressing healthy affection for your spouse and children through loving words and affectionate touch.
- Offering comfort during even minor times of stress and rejoicing together during times of celebration.
- Encouraging your spouse and children to pursue their interests and explorations of the world. This may involve supporting them in their pursuit as well.
- Listening deeply.
- Believing the best about your spouse’s intents and motivations as well as your children’s intents and motivations.
These simple daily practices of kindness can change the world, starting with your marriage and your family. Kindness is powerful.