Our lives are full of life-changing moments. Many of the choices that we make have domino effects that impact ourselves and others. Some of the outcomes of our actions are obvious, but many will go undetected, especially those that affect other people. Bullying and kindness are two behaviors that often become life-changing moments.
The Life-Changing Effects of Kindness
When we display an act of kindness or do something that brings someone else down, we often don’t see the full effects of our actions. For example, a relinquished smile and compliment may seem trivial, but for the receiver, it could be the stepping stone that leads to a more significant and positive outcome. As quoted by Aesop, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Being kind is also beneficial for our health. Doing nice things for others can boost your serotonin, a chemical that nerve cells produce, which can contribute to your wellbeing and happiness. It can also boost your immune system, slow down aging, elevate self-esteem, and improve blood pressure. Those who we’re kind to can also receive similar health benefits.
Kindness is often contagious, which contributes to its domino effects. Studies have found that the natural high feeling that kindness can provide often makes people want to behave more altruistically toward others. Those who receive acts of kindness can become more compassionate to others.
The Life-Changing Effects of Bullying
Like kindness, bullying can have similar short and long-term effects, with the potential to alter a person’s life in a significant way. No good comes out of bullying. Damaging consequences are often the result, impacting both the victim and the bully.
Similar to kindness, bullying can increase an internally produced chemical. As the body produces more GABA as a response to bullying, anxiety symptoms can also appear. Bullying can also cause depression, lowered self-esteem, and a weakened immune system.
Those who bully often learned the behavior from someone else. The one who bullies may have been bullied themselves or watched someone else get bullied. People often bully because they’re trying to make themselves feel better. But it does just the opposite. While it may temporarily give a false feeling of satisfaction, many bullies end up feeling regretful, depressed, and unhappy. The effects that bullying can have on victims can also be detrimental.
How Bullying and Kindness Changed One Teen’s Life
Kyla, a 15-year-old, had been bullied since 7th grade. There seemed to be no escape from the bullying. While at school, kids would laugh and call her names. The name-calling followed her home through anonymous text messages and social media. After three years of relentless bullying, she decided that life was too much to handle and began to plan how she would end her life. Fortunately, just days before she was planning to commit suicide, another girl at school asked if she was alright. A simple act of kindness can be very powerful. The girl who asked Kyla if she was alright may never know the life-changing impact that she had on Kyla. This real-life example demonstrates how kindness truly matters even if the outcomes aren’t obvious. In Kyla’s case, the girl who cared enough to ask if she was alright, saved her life.
Creating Positive Life Changing Moment
Every day, we have choices to make. How will you treat and respond to others? What words will you speak, and how will you let the words and behaviors of others affect how you feel and behave? It’s important to remember that little actions can have long-lasting effects. None of us are perfect, and we will all make mistakes. A sincere apology can also become a life-changing moment.
The power of kindness and bullying is essential for all ages to know. Adults who have kids should take time to explain how these behaviors can dramatically impact themselves and others. Empathy is also an important skill to teach. Being empathetic is being aware and understanding someone else’s feelings by understanding their perspective. Those who are empathetic can be more mindful about creating positive life-changing moments.
About the Author:
Danielle Matthew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who helps adolescents, adults, couples, and families who are in pain due to issues such as anxiety, severe stress, low self-esteem, or depression. With over 20 years of experience, Danielle authored Amazon Parenting Best-Seller, The Empowered Child: How to Help Your Child Cope, Communicate, and Conquer Bullying, and is the Director of The Empowerment Space Bullying Therapy Program in Los Angeles. Featured in Huffington Post and TODAY.com, Danielle has appeared on Fox, ABC and CBS Morning Shows and Mom Talk Radio, and is the expert contributor to Washington Post’s article: ‘Kids love to ‘roast’ each other. But when does good-natured teasing become bullying?’