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When Kindness Doesn’t Work

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

I want to take a moment to recognize when kindness doesn't work. This is inspired by Sonja Lyubomirsky's book, "The How of Happiness," where the points she discussed rang true. While I would love to say that kindness is always the solution, it can sometimes backfire. Therefore, I am going to offer you 3 points to chew on and be aware of so that when you put your kindness into practice, you do so with a compassionate mindset.

3 Scenarios Where Kindness Doesn’t Work

Firstly, kindness cannot be forced. When you force someone to act in service when they don't want to, it can actually inspire feelings of bitterness and resentment. While they may logically recognize that they are doing a good thing, they may have coinciding feelings of their generosity being taken advantage of. Therefore, kindness must be completed freely and autonomously to achieve ultimate results.

Secondly, sometimes kindness will not be well received. We live in a very independent society where kindness and help can be perceived as pity or handouts. The recipient may not accept your goodwill with pleasure but instead feel anger, disadvantage, or as though they are being needy.

That is why one must be compassionate with their kindness, thinking about how it may be perceived through another person's eyes. While we, of course, can't anticipate how everyone will feel, we can adjust how we present our kindness. While it may be obvious, we never want to present ourselves as being condescending or fluffing up our service as something more than it is. Remember, stay humble.

Lastly, I want to note that kindness should not be detrimental to your physical, emotional, or mental health. For example, studies have shown that long-term caregivers of family members often suffer deeply from stress, anger, resentment, and grief. While taking care of their family members may be considered the kind thing to do, their pain often goes under the radar.

I want to note that while long-term care may be expected of you as the honorable, appropriate, or "right" thing to do, you must remember to take care of yourself as well. There is never any harm in knowing when to ask for help and to take a break. Your happiness matters too.

Okay, darker and sadder notes aside, I want to bring us back to remember that in most situations, kindness will spark joy in people's lives. I encourage you to sprinkle some joy today in a meaningful and thoughtful way. Need an idea? Get a dose of happiness delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our newsletter, delivered twice a month, today!

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