Sometimes, you do something not-so-nice and you can’t help but think “ Gah! I’m such an asshole!”
Then other times, people tell you “Aww, you’re so kind”, but you’re not even doing anything!
So then…what is it really?
Are you genuinely kind or are you not?
In order to assess yourself better, it’s time you turn to psychology.
If you’re wondering if you’re a genuinely kind person, here are 8 signs you should look out for, according to experts.
1) You don’t ask “What’s in it for me?”
The American Psychology Association defines kindness as “acts considered to be motivated by the desire to help another.”
And here’s the important thing: They say “Acts of kindness are not done to gain explicit reward or to avoid explicit punishment.”
In other words, genuine kindness is something you do because you truly care!
Certainly, you don’t care about “appearing kind” so you’ll have a good reputation.
And while there’s proof that kindness and generosity can make us happier and healthier… you don’t really care about any of that!
All you really care about is actually making others lives a little bit better.
2) You feel other people’s pain
Kindness is rooted in our deep feeling of concern for other people.
This involves identifying with another’s painful experiences, feeling sympathy for them, and attempting to repair any damage caused by oneself or others (Malti, 2020).
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you feel other people’s pain?
Does your heart bleed when you witness injustice of any kind?
Do you try your best to alleviate people’s suffering?
And do you sometimes can’t help but get angry when there’s nothing much you can do to save others from their misery?
Then you’re definitely a genuinely kind person even if you commit not-so-nice things from time to time (hey, we all do).
3) You err in the direction of kindness
Some people think kindness is for the naive or weak, and we have a study to credit (or blame) for that.
“Don’t donate to charity. They’ll just steal your money!”
“Don’t be too trusting of others. They’ll just abuse your kindness!”
“Don’t give a beggar even $1. You’re promoting laziness!”
If you use your heart, people would think you’re just being “gullible” and “foolish.” If you use your head, you’ll always find reasons NOT to help others.
But you’ve decided to not care about being “naive” from time to time. If it means you’ll be able to help more people, so be it!
If everyone becomes too suspicious of others, then what would happen to those who actually need help?
4) You give importance to feelings
Psychologist Dona Matthews believes that empathy is where kindness begins.
Can you sense what others are feeling whether it’s fear, anger, frustration, or joy?
You’re probably kinder than most people.
After all, how can we know what others need if we can’t even sense their emotions?
But more than your ability to sense feelings, you actually do give importance to them when dealing with others.
You don’t say things like “Oh come on now, let’s not get too emotional here!”
Or “I know you’re grieving but we’ve got work to do.”
Or “I get it, you’re in love and you want to spend time with your boyfriend. But you made a promise you’ll help me clean my apartment!”
Every person has feelings and as much as you can, you always consider this when dealing with them.
5) You’re patient even on your worst days
A study published in 2018 in the journal Health, Spirituality and Medical Ethics concluded that patient people have higher levels of empathy.
They’re also significantly less prone to negative emotions — more specifically, those linked to neuroticism.
I have two brothers.
One is smart, generous, responsible…but oh boy, he has a very short fuse! For example, if you can’t respond to his questions at the speed he wants you to, he’d be pissed.
And he’d have a meltdown.
While he’s always there for me, I don’t really enjoy his presence very much. He’s like a ticking time bomb that’s always ready to explode.
My other brother, on the other hand, is not the most responsible, and frankly, he has nothing much to give. But he’s the gentlest person I know!
He never says anything harsh even if you’re in a heated argument.
Which of the two do I find kind? The gentler brother, of course.
Patience matters a lot when we’re talking about kindness.
So… Do you consider yourself a patient person?
Then you’re probably a genuinely kind person.
6) You let things slide (at least most of the time)
You’re forgiving and tolerant.
In fact, you don’t make a big deal of most things.
When someone has hurt you in whatever way, you show your kindness by not making their lives miserable just because you’re in the position to.
You don’t say harsh things towards them, you don’t guilt-trip them, you don’t seek revenge.
You know that, most of the time, people are generally good. And if they committed a mistake, you know in your heart that it’s not because they deliberately want to hurt you, but because they’re human.
Of course, if you find out that they’re hurting you on purpose, that’s a different story.
You’d distance yourself and confront them—but still, always with kindness.
7) You consider yourself a happy person
I came across a study that suggests kind people are generally happier.
And I find this to be true.
When I was at the unhappiest time of my life—when I was still in a toxic relationship and earning peanuts—I was such an assh*le.
I didn’t care about others because… why should I? I can’t even care for myself!
I was selfish and always angry because I thought that the world is unfair.
But when my life got better and I was happier, I suddenly had a lot to give—and it’s not just material things. I have a lot more compassion, patience, and love to give to others.
Do you see yourself as a generally happy person?
Are you generally content?
Do you think the world is unfair but it’s okay?
Then chances are you’re kind—or at least kinder than if you’re unhappy.
8) You believe that people are inherently kind
Genuinely kind people believe people are inherently kind.
Not convinced? Allow me to explain.
This is what psychologists call the “assumed similarity bias.” It’s when your assumption of others is affected by your own personality traits.
In other words, you think others are exactly like you.
This is the reason why those who are suspicious of others might not be trustworthy.
This is the reason why kind people generally underestimate bad behavior.
So if you truly believe people are generally kind, trust me—chances are, you’re a kind person yourself.
Can you relate to all of the signs above?
Then there’s no doubt about it—you’re one genuinely kind person.
Stay as you are and inspire others to be a little kinder. After all, kindness is contagious.
Of course, make sure that you protect yourself from people who take advantage of your kindness. You don’t want to get burned.
But if this article has made you realize that you’re actually not so kind, then it’s time to be a little kinder.