Kindness | Character Strengths | VIA Institute

Become Aware Of Your Strength

Understand what kindness is all about so you can begin recognizing it in yourself and others.
What is Kindness?

Simply put, kindness is being nice to others. As you examine kindness further, a number of important dimensions begin to unfold. Kindness is being generous with others, giving your time, money, and talent to support those who are in need. Kindness is being compassionate, which means to really be there for someone, listening intently to their suffering or just sitting with them and silently supporting them. Such compassion involves a deep concern for the welfare of others. Kindness is also being nurturing and caring to others — to enjoy doing favors for them, to take care of them, and to perform good deeds.

Kind individuals believe that others are worthy of attention and affirmation for their own sake as human beings, not out of a sense of duty or principle. There are three traits of altruistic personalities:

  • Empathy/sympathy
  • Moral reasoning
  • Social responsibility
Which virtue is this strength?
Kindness is a strength within the virtue category of humanity, one of six virtues that subcategorize the 24 strengths. Humanity describes strengths that manifest in caring relationships with others. These strengths are interpersonal and are mostly relevant in one-on-one relationships. The other strengths in Humanity are kindness , love , and social intelligence .
What the Science Says

Research findings on the benefits of the strength of kindness found people who give to others, in small and in large ways, tend to be happier as a result. Kind people are often likable to others, which can provide opportunities to develop meaningful relationships and love. Random acts of kindness have related to a range of benefits, including greater positive emotions, lower negative emotions, greater well-being, and higher peer acceptance (popularity).

Explore Your Strength

Reflect on how you’ve used kindness in the past, in everyday life and during special or critical times.

Questions to Help You Understand Your Strength Better

What is Kindness?

  • What are some way you have observed the expression of kindness and compassions by different people in different situations?
  • How are your kind acts received by others?
  • What character strengths best support your expressions of kindness?
Examples of this Strength in Action

Wondering about times that you may be using this strength? Here are a few examples of kindness at work in the world.

  • Surprising someone you are in a close relationship with a random act of kindness — for example, plan a weekend getaway, cook a dinner, or help them with part of their routine or chores.
  • While getting a morning cup of coffee at your local coffee shop, purchase a second cup “to go” for one of your co-workers. Alternate the extra cup between your co-workers. If a co-worker has been unkind to you, consider including them in the rotation.
  • Offer deliberate kind acts to neighbors in your community, such as helping a neighbor in need with their lawn, with snow on their driveway, with their groceries, or with their pet.

Apply Your Strength

How can you make the most of kindness in your everyday life? In the moments that matter most? Here are some ideas.
  • Perform a random act of kindness each day (ex: slowing to allow a car in front of you, complimenting a co-worker, buying a treat for your partner)
  • Say kinder and softer words to people when interacting through email, writing letters, talking on phone. Smile when answering the phone and sound happy to hear from the person on the other end of the line.
  • Take out a friend(s) on a surprise dinner and pay for it.