Mormon Channel Blog

Self Reliance: Lessons on Being Kind & Having Charity

December 19, 2015

Dr. Kevin Theriot is a counselor with LDS Family Services. Here, he shares his thoughts with us on why it is important to always follow the Savior’s example and be kind to others around us.

Being kind might be considered a basic part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many scriptures as well as statements from latter-day prophets that support this human behavioral practice. However, I believe these two quotes capture it well:

“Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.” —Joseph B. Wirthlin

“As a people we are advised not to be critical, not to be unkind, not to speak harshly of those with whom we associate. We ought to be the greatest exemplars in all the world in that regard. Consider the criticism today. Pick up your newspapers and see the unkind things that are being said by individuals about others, and yet many times the individual who is criticizing has a beam in his own eye and does not see at all clearly, but he does think his brother has a mote in his eye.” —George Albert Smith

So why is there a tendency for people to display a lack of kindness? While there are a number of possible explanations, the counsel we receive from both the scriptures and modern-day prophets seems clear: we need to be kind to everyone.

As we grow up, we learn values and morals that ideally will help us to become kind people. However, that's not to say that you're only a nice person if you grew up with those values. Life experience can also lead you to realize that being kind is a strong predictor of personal happiness and success.

One way to develop the attribute of kindness is practicing charity toward others, especially in our online and in-person communications. When you're charitable toward someone, you're not only lifting them; you may also be improving your own self-esteem in the process. Some in the social science field have pointed out that when we do a kind act, it may cause our brain to release endorphins, the chemicals that give us feelings of happiness.

Doing something nice for someone may also give the brain a boost of serotonin, the chemical associated with feeling at peace with ourselves. I will often give the assignment to clients I am counseling to perform random acts of kindness every day for a month. Often their happiness increases.  While this assignment is not restricted to the Internet, it seems that “cyber-kindness” could potentially have the same effect. You don't have to go too far out of your way to be kind—sometimes just sending someone a thoughtful note is enough to help them (and even you) feel better. When was the last time you heard someone complain about someone else being too kind to them?

Of course, there’s nothing like experimenting. Set a goal to eliminate all negativity in what you say, think, do, and post online. Are you happier when you do these things?