Kindness: The Ultimate Pain Reliever?

If you’re suffering pain, whether it be physical or emotional, a simple act of kindness can relieve your pain.


For those of you who doubt that and those of you who are thinking “It’s not that easy”, you’re right. When I first heard this idea, I was skeptical…until I heard the explanation.

When you shift your focus from yourself to the welfare of others, you shift your brain’s focus away from the pain your experiencing which affords you immediate relief from that pain. The pain doesn’t go away, it simply is ignored as you focus on helping someone else.

It’s not easy, but easier

If you’re thinking, that’s easier said than done, you’re right. When we’re in pain it’s difficult to find the energy and inclination to consider the welfare of others…until you realize the benefit it affords you.

Emerson said it well when he said “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. “

Recall a time in your life when you helped another person. Recall the feelings you experienced. You felt good about yourself, you experienced a natural high, a sense of having value and having done something worthwhile. You felt the love and appreciation of the person you helped. You wanted to experience these emotions again and again.

If, as you experience pain, you remind yourself of these feelings of joy, peace and fulfillment, you’ll find it easier and easier to shift your focus to the welfare of others. In doing so, you help yourself alleviate the pain you’re experiencing…proving Emerson correct in his assessment.

Kindness and confidence

I’m sure that some of you are wondering “What does this have to do with confidence? After all this is supposed to be a blog about confidence.”

True. Let’s find out what roles confidence plays in acts of kindness.

Confidence is necessary for us to be able to explore our own emotional state with an eye to improving both our lot in life as well as that of others. People who lack confidence in their ability to effect change…to improve their lives…will find it virtually impossible to consider the welfare of others. We see this played out almost everyday in terrorist attacks and violent rages.

Confidence also enables us to explore. People who lack confidence are too afraid to explore new ways of behaving for fear that they’ll fail. Explorers know that they’re going to make mistakes along the way, but that what they learn from their mistakes assures their success in achieving the bigger, longer-term goal.

Finally, confident people want to share the joy, peace and sense of fulfillment their confidence affords. It’s easy for them to focus on the welfare of others because they know that theirs is already assured. That’s why you see confident people handle the most devastating news with grace and aplomb. You’ve known people like this; now you know how they achieved that status.

Message for you

As you experience pain, shift your focus to helping others. It may be as simple as calling a friend or loved one that you haven’t spoken to in awhile or extending a caring smile to a stranger. The act need not be something huge to be memorable. I have people in my life who remember the month and year that we met. When I compliment them on their memory they say “I’ll never forget because you [whatever I did to help them.]

What I viewed as a small, simple act of kindness created for them a fond memory that lasts for decades. It’s also one of the reasons why, during my times of need (and we all have them), these people volunteer to help me through whatever challenge I’m facing.

It’s important to note that if I were to perform an act of kindness with the expectation that the other person will repay the favor in the future, I destroy their desire to help me. But when I give with no expectation of anything in return…understanding that the good feelings I experience, as Emerson said, are their own compensation, then I trigger in them a desire to find a way to return the favor.

For our kids

As the kids in your life see the joy, peace and fulfillment that you gain from helping others they emulate these behaviors which enables them to experience what you’re experiencing.

When they perform acts of kindness, instead of telling them how good that was or how proud you are of them (even though that’s true), ask them “How did you feel when you helped that person?”

That question allows them to relive the emotions they felt and reinforces the connection between their feelings of joy, peace and fulfillment with the act of kindness they performed. Then you can point out that wha they did may not have seemed like a big deal to them, but for the person they helped it was big.

That’s how you teach the kids in your life that kindness is the ultimate pain reliever.

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