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By Dr. Mercola
The video above, featuring 6-year-old Landon Johnson and a River Town Crossings Mall Santa Claus, demonstrates just how powerful kindness can be — powerful enough to fall into the Christmas Magic category, according to the boy's mother, Naomi.
After telling Santa what he wanted for Christmas, Landon ran back a second time to tell him a secret: Landon has autism, and he was worried it would land him on the "naughty" list.
Landon admitted he gets in trouble at school because his teachers and classmates don't understand autism, and think he's just acting out. He wanted Santa to know that he's really not a naughty boy.
Santa listened to Landon's story, then told the young boy,1 "It's OK to be yourself. I love you, and the reindeer love you, and it's OK. You are a good boy." Landon's mother told Today.com:2
"This stranger in a red suit told my son the same message I've been trying to get through to him for a while now — that he's special and I love him just the way he was made. Seeing Landon's face light up in that moment was just incredible. I couldn't stop crying."
When they got home, Landon told his mother: "Mommy, it's OK for me to be me. Santa said so." Writing on the mall's Facebook page, Naomi said:
"My child is a great advocate for himself, but this day was different. He opened up to this person about who he was and he was accepted."
Kindness Builds Satisfying Relationships
Kindness tends to be featured most heavily around the Christmas season, but there's certainly no expiration date on kindness and acceptance.
Science tells us that kindness directly influences your propensity for happiness. Kindness also improves your health and increases your longevity. That's a proven biological fact.
And, when it comes to creating happy relationships, few attributes beat kindness, which by definition encompasses taking the feelings of others into consideration, sympathy, empathy, compassion, thoughtfulness, gentleness, and caring.
As noted in a recent Greatist article,3 your thoughts, words, and deeds play a crucial role in happiness, and can make or break just about any relationship.
Based on the advice from therapists, researchers, matchmakers, and other relationship experts, the article offers 15 tips to long-lasting happiness, including the following five — all of which are extensions of kindness:
- Do or say something daily to show your appreciation. "Saying and doing small, simple expressions of gratitude every day yields big rewards.
When people feel recognized as special and appreciated, they're happier in that relationship and more motivated to make the relationship better and stronger ..." ~ Terri Orbuch, PhD, author of "5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great"
- Never take your partner for granted."... Many people assume that just because they are OK without things they want, so is their partner. 'No relationship is perfect' shouldn't be used as a rationalization for complacency." ~ Irina Firstein, LCSW, individual and couples therapist
- It's not what you fight about — it's how you fight."Researchers have found that four conflict messages are able to predict whether couples remain together or get divorced: contempt, criticism, stonewalling (or withdrawal), and defensiveness.
Together, they're known as the 'Four Horsemen of Divorce.'
Instead of resorting to these negative tactics, fight fairly: Look for places where each partner's goal overlaps into a shared common goal and build from that. Also, focus on using 'I' vs. 'you' language." ~ Sean M. Horan, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication, Texas State University
- Try a nicer approach. "Research has shown that the way a problem is brought up determines both how the rest of that conversation will go and how the rest of the relationship will go.
Many times an issue is brought up by attacking or blaming one's partner, also known as criticism, and one of the killers of a relationship ...
[T]ry a more gentle approach, focusing on your own emotional reaction and a positive request ..." ~ Carrie Cole, M.Ed., LPC-S, a certified Gottman therapist and master trainer for The Gottman Institute
- Make sure you're meeting your partner's needs. "... Loving relationships are a process by which we get our needs met and meet the needs of our partners too ...
That is why it is important to pay attention to what you and your partner actually do for each other as expressions of love ... not just how you feel about each other in the moment." ~ Jeremy Nicholson, Ph.D., psychologist and dating expert
Kindness Is a Hallmark of a Happy Person
In a 2013 article, I expanded on "22 Things Happy People Do Differently," and the second item on this list is: " Treat everyone with kindness."
"Kindness is not only contagious; it's also proven to make you happier. When you're kind to others, your brain produces feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin and you're able to build strong relationships with others, fostering positive feelings all around."
If you're looking for ways to lengthen your life and spread good vibrations to others in the world, remember that "random acts of kindness" can be performed anywhere at any time.
There's even a Random Acts of Kindness Foundation at www.ActsOfKindness.org to help you focus your kindness in ways you haven't thought of yet.
Also know that if certain issues in your life block your ability to extend – or receive – kindness, there are strategies that can help you change your life.
The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) – Being Kind to Yourself
Besides mindfulness and loving kindness meditation (LMK), 4 both of which can help "reprogram" your mind to focus on more positive states, the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is another helpful technique. EFT is a form of psychological acupressure based on the same energy meridians used in 5,000-year-old acupuncture. It's an effective way to quickly restore your inner balance and healing and helps rid your mind of negative thoughts and emotions.
In the video above, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to tap for gratitude, which is another positive emotion that has virtually identical benefits as kindness. To focus in on kindness, all you need to do is make some slight changes to the words you use while tapping. An article in Conscious Life News5 explains how to easily combine loving kindness meditation with EFT:
"To combine LKM and EFT, simply tap on one of the points as you repeat the phrases, such as …
Eyebrow: May I now be filled with loving kindness.
Side of Eye: May I be safe and protected.
Under Eye: May I be gentle with myself today.
Under Nose: May I have faith today.
Chin: May I now be filled with loving kindness.
Collarbone: May I be safe and protected.
Under Arm: May I be gentle with myself today.
Head: May I have faith today."
Vow to Make 2016 a Year Dedicated to Kindness
The world is rife with strife and drama, which is all the more reason to take the merits of kindness seriously, and strive to implement kindness as our "modus operandi" — both with ourselves and others.
Just as a mall Santa can help an autistic boy to accept himself with a few well-chosen words of kindness, so you have the power to improve the life of countless others with your kind words and actions every day of the year, while reaping benefits of greater health and happiness for yourself in the process.