John Fuller recently made a month-long effort to never utter a negative word to or about his wife, a busy mom he sometimes took for granted.
For a similar period, Katie Phillips found something positive to say about her 7-year-old son, with whom she had a “prickly relationship.”
And Christine King performed acts of kindness for an irritating co-worker.
Kindness — a virtue embraced by both the religious and the nonreligious — requires intentional behavior and can have beneficial results for both the giver and recipient of a benevolent act, experts say.
But don’t we know that already? Aren’t most of us already kind?
We’d like to think so, said Phillips, an Atlanta-area mother of five, who took a “30-Day Kindness Challenge” earlier this year.
“But then you actually stop and think, ‘OK, what am I actively doing to please my child?'” said the woman who leads an adoption ministry at her church. “‘How can I find little ways to make them happy, make their day, let them know I’m thinking about them?'” she added. “You’re really humbled because you think, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t do this nearly as often as I thought I did.'”
In recent months, Christian authors — as well as Parade magazine — have highlighted step-by-step processes to help readers learn how to be kind. Though organizations like the World Kindness Movement and the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation have encouraged altruism since the 1990s, more recent studies by scientists back up its benefits.
“People are longing for kindness,” said relationship researcher Shaunti Feldhahn, author of “The Kindness Challenge: Thirty Days to Improve Any Relationship.”
“Everybody likes living with a kind home, with a kind church, with a kind school and with kind neighbors.”
So she created daily goals for how to treat a friend, loved one or colleague: Say nothing negative, say something affirming and be generous to them in some small way. Feldhahn found that 89 percent of relationships improved when people took those steps for a month.
“They had trained themselves in purposeful kindness,” she said.
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