Just be friendly

Especially in difficult and challenging times
Times like these, kindness is a
precious elixir of life.

I recently read the following beautiful story in Psychology Today, which I would like to share with you at the beginning of my article: Waiting in line at a drive-in fast-food restaurant in Manitoba, Canada, a few years ago, a kind person was waiting for his food to arrive. When it was his turn, he also paid the bill of the person waiting behind him. This pleased the recipient so much that he did the same as his predecessor and settled the bill for his backer. The chain of these endearing acts grew to 226 people.

Friendliness, kindness or goodness can be contagious! How great – or.

Friendliness as a research topic

The study of kindness is in vogue in psychology and many studies now show that being kind and friendly can be beneficial to ALL of us. Because friendly gestures give us a little kick physically as well as mentally, make us happy and give us strength.

Basically we humans are all capable of being friendly. It is interesting to note that there is still no clear and uniform definition of friendliness. Psychologist David Canter tries to make this a bit more tangible with 3 core components:

  1. Everyday politeness including acceptance of others.
  2. A basic sense that other people have feelings.
  3. Altruistic behavior – Thinking mainly about the welfare of others without expecting anything in return.

Researchers at the University of Sussex shed light on this in a study with 1.150 subjects using brain scans to see what happens in our brains when we act kindly. The result shows that a distinction is made here between generous, altruistic kindnesses and the nice acts in the sense of reciprocity.

In subjects where strategic kindness was coupled with the expectation of something in return, the brain turns on the areas of the reward center that make you feel good. In the case of selfless acts of kindness, other regions in the cerebral cortex were activated, which lead to the fact that it is always easy for us to be generous.

The path from being grateful to being kind

We should deal with this context a little more intensively, and for this I am expanding a little:

I am Iranian by birth (my mother insists that I say Persian 🙂 ). When I was one year old, my mother fled to Germany with my sister and me. She was politically persecuted. Growing up in Germany was a matter of course for me, because I couldn't remember Iran. After 15 years we dared to travel to Iran for the first time. I got to know for the first time, the country of my birth. Iran is a beautiful country with a great history and warm people. What I experienced firsthand in my life, however, was being restricted in my freedom. I had to wear a headscarf, sit in the back of the bus, and shouldn't laugh too loudly in public. My relatives of the same age have been pestering me for the things that are most normal and self-evident to me. what it was like to go to a school with boys? Whether movies are censored? Whether we are allowed to wear what we want? Listening to the music we like?

For the first time in my life, I realized that all these things are natural to me, but not to many other people – like the people from Iran. And I began to be grateful for being allowed to live in a country where I am allowed to think what I want, say what I want, wear what I want, and simply be the person I want to be.

What do my first trip to Iran and gratitude have to do with friendliness??

Personally, I firmly believe that gratitude makes us friendlier. From my point of view this could be the basis for friendliness. Because gratitude sometimes also triggers a feeling of contentment. After my first trip to Iran, I was extremely grateful for all the things that I had previously taken for absolute granted. The problem – after a very short time I noticed how this feeling of gratitude fades and I slowly but surely start to complain again on a high level. And I noticed how I was sometimes even thinking about the things I didn't have, couldn't do, couldn't manage. And in this mode it is harder for us to be friendly. Therefore, the first step we should take is to start practicing gratitude. We should always remember what we can't take for granted.

A tip from my side to "train" gratitude: the gratitude diary: regularly note down what you are grateful for. In the best case, every day. Gratitude can be the basis of kindness.

Kindness can be practiced

Being friendly can also be practiced. We can consciously choose to be kind. Perhaps friendliness is also an attitude that we can consciously adopt. In my everyday life, I often notice how grim people are on the road. Often even ignorant. And I consciously choose to walk through the pedestrian zone with a friendly facial expression. And I enjoy the reactions. Because many people smile back, and that is nice.

In the working world, we can even retain people by being friendly. Friendliness also creates a bond. My favorite cafe is my favorite cafe for a very specific reason – every single employee is friendly and warm, and that's exactly why I feel comfortable and go there again and again. Just a nice ambiance and a good coffee are not reason enough to become a fan.

Friendliness is contagious – try it out!

Just now I was sitting at a nice table in the sun in a cafe and wrote this article. The sun tables here are rare. I offered two gentlemen, who were saddened by the fact that there was no longer a free sunny table, to sit at my table, adding that I would be sitting here for another quarter of an hour at most. They were pleased and gratefully accepted the offer. I said goodbye shortly after and went shopping for a little something. On my way back, I passed by the cafe again and just at that moment I saw how the two gentlemen offered a young couple to join them, as there were no free tables left. I had to smile and think to myself that maybe my behavior had a little influence on theirs. Just as in the opening story!

So we can say that there is a very high probability that people who have experienced a pleasure will also give pleasure to others. Isn't that nice? So friendliness can also be contagious!

We can make the world a little bit nicer by being friendly, it is good for us and our fellow human beings, it doesn't cost anything and it doesn't really take much effort – so, let's just be a little bit friendlier for once.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *