It may seem a bit far-fetched, but being kind can actually affect you, your health, your habits, and your writing itself. Here several ways being kind can make you a better writer.
The Results of Kindness
Being Kind Makes You Happy
Studies show that being kind (in this case, charitable giving) actually cause neural activity in areas of the brain that are linked to reward processing. This is the cause of the warm feeling you get when you give to others—it is your brain rewarding your for doing so. Other studies have used surveys to measure happiness after doing acts of kindness and discovered that acts of kindness also increased happiness.
Of course, being happier affects your life and health in a myriad of ways. It increases problem-solving abilities, it lowers blood pressure, it improves sleep, it reduces stress, it helps you stay at a healthy weight, and more. Being happier, healthier, and clear-minded will put you in the best situation to write—and write well.
Helping Others Decreases Stress
A recent study shows that prosocial behavior (helping others, or being kind) decreases stress and helps the individual better cope with the stress they have. We all know that having too much stress negatively affects health, but it also can make it hard to concentrate and cause anxiety, something you definitely don’t need as a writer! So, if you’re feeling stressed, trying doing something for someone else.
Kindess Releases Hormones
Being kind releases the hormone serotonin, often called a “helper’s high.” Serotonin decreases depression and anxiety, both of which would make it hard to write and be productive.
Kindness Decreases Social Anxiety
Studies have shown that acts of kindness decrease social anxiety. As a writer, you may be introverted and shy around others, but you also need to be able to understand people to make your writing stronger. If you’re a nonfiction writer, you need to be able to craft arguments and scenarios that will convince your reader; if you’re a fiction writer, you need to be able to get into your characters’ heads and write unique and believable personalities. Neither of these can be done if you don’t understand people, and the more you talk to people—especially to new people—the more knowledge and understanding of different people and personalities you’ll gain, and the better your writing will be.
Kindness Improves Relationships
This one is a no-brainer—you like the people who are kind to you better than the people who are rude or even ambivalent to you, right? But studies also show that being kind releases the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which promotes social bonding.
Similar to the last point, if you have stronger relationships with others, you can better understand people and human nature. These kind of strong connections also increase self-esteem. Additionally, strong relationships will offer you support in your writing journey and lift you up when you’re feeling down.
Oxytocin itself also has other health benefits; it can improve your cardiovascular health, increase your energy, reduce aches and pains, and strengthen your immune system. Writing is definitely easier if you feel energized and healthy!
Kindness Comes Around
As an author, you ask a lot of others: friends and family to be fine with you writing them into your stories, beta readers to give you feedback, editors to improve your book, book promotion companies to promote your book, readers to buy your book and leave you reviews—even if you pay people for some of these services, a little bit of kindness goes a long way. It make others more willing to bend over backwards for you, to put you first over others that maybe haven’t been so kind, or to even make an exception to the rules just for you.
So the next time you want to yell at someone for a mistake or for their rudeness, take a breath and be kind instead; you may be surprised at the results.
How to Be Kind?
So what can you do to be more kind so you can get all these benefits, and in turn become a better writer? There are plenty of ways! Here are just a few.
- Charitable giving (if you have money to spare)
- Help a neighbor move
- Bring a neighbor or a friend food or treats
- Smile at a stranger
- Compliment a stranger on something (hair, makeup, shoes, clothes, etc.)
- Introduce yourself to someone in your neighborhood that you don’t know
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Donate supplies to a relief organization
- Refrain from cutting someone off in traffic (and let people merge when they put on their blinker)
- Write a thank you letter to someone who hosted you or gave you something
- Give a thoughtful birthday present that the individual will actually like
- Call your parents or grandparents
- Say thank you and mean it
- Take time to truly listen when someone is talking instead of planning what you’re going to say next
- Tell friends or family specific reasons why you are grateful for them
- Do little things for your family members (refill their water bottle, let them sleep in a few extra minutes before doing something loud, help with a chore they usually do, etc.)
- Own up to your own mistakes and apologize rather than make excuses
- Forgive others of their mistakes and don’t hold their mistakes over them later
- Make eye contact when having conversations
- Remember the name of the person you’re talking to and use it at least once during the conversation
- Pick up litter outside
- Offer a bottle of water to people that are working or outside in the heat
- Put away your phone when spending time with others
- Leave a bigger tip than is recommended
What ways have you been kind to others or have others been kind to you? How has it affected your life or your writing? Let us know in the comments below!