Acting kind even when we don’t feel kind is a very special form of kindness. If we are only kind to those who are kind to us, how have we made the world a better place? It is no sacrifice to practice kindness toward those who are kind to us. It takes much more effort to show grace and kindness towards those who upset us. At the same time it is much more important to be kind towards difficult people. There are also days where we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and just won’t feel like being kind towards others. This is where our true character comes though. In order to live a lifestyle of kindness we must sometimes learn to “fake it until you make it” and to act kind even when we don’t feel like being kind. If we truly want to be a kind person then we must not be kind only when we happen to feel like it. Simply “not feeling good” is never an excuse to be rude or unkind towards others. Kindness at all times demands that we show grace and kindness toward others even on our bad days. Fortunately, science shows us that even when we feel grumpy or down, that the mere act of acting happy and smiling improves our mood —  and science also shows us that our kind acts toward others can improve our own mood. So if you don’t feel kind, act kind anyway and it will help you to feel kind and happier.

I sometimes remind my depressed psychotherapy patients when I’m trying to encourage them to become more physically active, that millions of Americans don’t feel like getting out of their soft warm bed on Monday morning and going to work, yet do so anyway. In the same vein, many people don’t feel like going to the gym, yet once at the gym and working out, they find themselves glad to be there! This is another example of faking it until you make it – getting up and going to the gym even when you don’t feel like it – and doing so improves my patient’s depression significantly (both anecdotal reports as well as research supports this). The lesson here is that just because you feel a certain way does not mean you must act a certain way. Research is clear, if you fake it, you will make it – with respect to mood anyway. So act kind even if you don’t feel like it. After all, kind people are kind on a regular basis – not just when they feel like it. You can be kind to others even when you don’t feel kind – and the mere act of smiling, being cheerful, and acting in a kind way towards others will make you happier too.

Not bad for something that starts with faking it.

Ron Hill