Columnist discusses her observations of kindness.


Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Sept. 8, 2022 at the age of 96. Having reigned over the United Kingdom for 70 years and 214 days, she was the longest serving monarch in history. In those seven decades from 1952 to 2022, Queen Elizabeth II experienced wars, economic recessions, technological advancements, family scandals and a global pandemic. She appeared to manage her birthright with many admirable qualities, specifically her kindness. Queen Elizabeth II showed an element of kindness to everyone. She was even kind to people with whom she disagreed, to her family who may have disappointed her and to the press who may have harshly scrutinized her. Thinking of her made me question.… What exactly is kindness?

According to Oxford Languages, kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. !is seems like a very simple concept, and one might wonder if small acts of kindness really mean anything. Spoiler alert — they actually mean a lot.

A small act of kindness has been proven to be beneficial to both the giver and receiver. According to Mayo Clinic Health System, kindness has been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy and compassion and improve mood. Kindness can decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone. Kindness can increase your sense of connectivity with others, which can directly impact loneliness, improve low mood and enhance relationships in general. Kindness also boosts serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that give you feelings of satisfaction.

Kindness in the teenager world can be something as simple as quietly redirecting a teammate who forgets the play on the field, opening up the standing circle of people when someone new approaches or helping a classmate you notice is struggling. Kindness is protecting, not exploiting, someone who is in a vulnerable state. It can be showing a genuine interest in someone’s well-being by simply asking, “Are you ok?” Kindness is letting someone know you see them. It is actually rather easy. Kindness does not take a lot of time.

If kindness is so simple, why do we not see more of it? Anyone can do it, right? As an introvert, I have spent a lot of time observing my surroundings ever since I was a little kid. I have noticed that a lot of the time people are just focused on themselves and not aware of others around them. It can be as simple as that. I have, however, noticed that there seems to be a kindness prerequisite. The ability to be kind appears to be tied to self-confi-dence. Confident people, whether they are kids or adults,
feel comfortable giving others a boost because they are already comfortable with who they are and their own skills and qualities. They know what they themselves can do, and they see no threat in supporting someone else.

Queen Elizabeth II seemed to live her 96 years as a confident, kind person. As I approach the end of my high school career, I have a better understanding of myself and what is important to me. I believe kindness is real and meaningful. I honestly believe that whatever you put out into the world will eventually come right back to you. Many other seemingly-important things really do not matter. I have realized that no one will remember the number of Instagram followers you had, the number of AP classes you aced or whether you had a date to the dance. They will not remember if you were on the group text thread, if you were invited to the party or if you wore a size 2 dress. !ey won’t remember most things about you. The one thing I am sure they will remember, though, is how you made them feel.