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Kindness is a type of behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, rendering assistant or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward in return.
Kindness is a topic of interest in philosophy, religion, and psychology. Kindness was one of the main topics in the Bible. In Book II of "Rhetoric", Aristotle defines kindness as "helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped". Nietzsche considered kindness and love to be the "most curative herbs and agents in human intercourse". Kindness is considered to be one of the Knightly Virtues. In Meher Baba's teachings, God is synonymous with kindness: "God is so kind that it is impossible to imagine His unbounded kindness!"
In English, the word kindness is from approximately 1300, though the word's sense evolved to its current meanings in the late 1300s.
Over time, it has acted in part of a personality trait as a long tradition of generosity through human cultures and family-friendly benefits in the concept of hospitality.
In human mating choice, studies suggest that both men and women value kindness in their prospective mates, along with intelligence, physical appearance, attractiveness and age.
Main article: Nice guy
A "nice guy" is an informal and usually stereotypical term for an (often young) adult male who portrays himself as gentle, compassionate, sensitive, and/or vulnerable. The term is used both positively and negatively. When used positively, and particularly when used as a preference or description by someone else, it is intended to imply a male who puts the needs of others before his own, avoids confrontations, does favors, gives emotional support, tries to stay out of trouble, and generally acts nicely towards others. In the context of a relationship, it may also refer to traits of honesty, loyalty, romanticism, courtesy, and respect. When used negatively, a nice guy implies a male who is unassertive, does not express his true feelings and, in the context of dating (in which the term is often used), uses acts of ostensible friendship with the unstated aim of progressing to a romantic or sexual relationship.
Based on experiments at Yale University using games with babies, some studies concluded that kindness is inherent to human beings. There are similar studies about the root of empathy in infancy – motor mirroring developing in the early months of life, to lead (optimally) to the concern shown by children for their peers in distress.
Barbara Taylor and Adam Phillips have stressed the element of necessary realism in adult kindness, as well as the way "real kindness changes people in the doing of it, often in unpredictable ways".
The motion picture Pay it Forward, based on the novel of the same name written in 1999 by the founder Catherine Ryan Hyde, which starred Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment and Jon Bon Jovi, illustrates the power one person can have to make an impact on a chain reaction of kind deeds. The philosophy of Pay It Forward is that through acts of kindness among strangers, we all foster a more caring society. In the book and film, Reuben St. Clair, a social studies teacher in Atascadero, California, challenges his students to "change the world". One of his students, Trevor, takes the challenge to heart. He starts by showing kindness to a stranger which ripples further than he could have ever imagined.
In October 2011, Life Vest Inside posted a video called "Kindness Boomerang". It shows how one act of kindness passes seamlessly from one person to the next and boomerangs back to the person who set it into motion. Orly Wahba, Life Vest Inside Founder and Director of Kindness Boomerang explains that each scene was based on real-life experiences she personally went through; moments of kindness that left a lasting impression on her life. Within several months after its release, Kindness Boomerang went viral; reaching over 20 million people globally and eventually invadingWahba spot on TED2013 stage to speak about the power of kindness.
Singer-songwriter Harry Styles has been promoting kindness since at least 2017 with his slogan 'Treat People with Kindness', also abbreviated to 'TPWK'.
Kindness is most often taught from parents to children and is learned through observation and some direct teaching. Studies have shown that through programs and interventions kindness can be taught and encouraged during the first 20 years of life. Further studies show that kindness interventions can help improve wellbeing with comparable results as teaching gratitude. Similar findings have shown that organizational level teaching of kindness can improve wellbeing of adults in college. Kindness is not present as a course in most institutions. Numerous religions teach their members to be kind and religiosity is associated with greater wellbeing and longevity.
See also: self-compassion
Self-kindness means to act in a generous and considerate manner when oneself is going through pain, struggles or hardships as opposed to ignoring them or being self-criticizing. This is different from self-esteem, which is more of an evaluation of oneself, where self-kindness is more about how one treats themselves. Self-kindness, as with other forms of kindness, is shown to improve wellbeing and longevity. What is theorized by David Snowden is that the ability to return to a positive affect when going through a negative life event or stresses is what allows a person to be healthier and happier. It is about acknowledging the hardships and struggles in life and realizing that there is still room to grow and learn while experiencing these things.