Severson Speaks: Consider kindness

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Photo courtesy of Morgan Severson

“We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter,” Ellen DeGeneres

Morgan Severson, Editor-in-Chief

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought that it would be timely to write about someone near and dear to my heart, my grandma and the power of unconditional love that drives me to take care of her. My grandma has a progressive disease called glaucoma, where pressures in her eye cause her to gradually lose her vision. She has fully lost vision in her right eye and only has about 20% vision in her left eye. This is a problem, not only because she is losing her vison, but she is losing her independence and is needing more and more care as time goes on. After school when my parents are working, I am the primary caretaker of my grandma. While this has come with its challenges; trying to do well in school while taking care of my grandma, it is an experience that I will never regret.

Looking back on why I started to care for my grandma led me to the realization of just how powerful unconditional love is. When I was younger, my grandma used to take care of my sister and I while my parents were at work and when the roles reversed, I knew I had to show her just as much love as she showed me. Taking care of someone that has limitations on what they can do for themselves is utterly exhausting. There are nights where I have given up taking showers, sleeping and spending time with my friends, all just to take care of my grandmother.

A Conscious Rethink defines unconditional love as existing in the absence of the one giving love benefiting, transcending all behaviors and not needing the love to be reciprocated; it is completely selfless. I believe that showing people unconditional love or just kindness in general, is what has made me into the person I am today.

However, according to AARP, Gen Z’s are thought to be one of the most selfish by older generations, always broadcasting ourselves on social media. Contrary to this, AARP also says, that we were raised to be one of the most caring generations. High school volunteer rates are at an all time high, with 80% of students saying they have volunteered in the past year. Compared to past generations, Gen Z is more likely to participate in political demonstrations or be involved in community organizations. We are by far the most accepting and inclusive generation, supporting equal rights for women, minorities and the LGBTQ+ community.

I believe that being kind and selfless provides benefits for not only the one receiving the kindness, but for the one giving it as well. Doing activities like volunteering and taking care of my grandma give me that heartwarming feeling that comes with helping others. Psychology Today calls that feeling “the driving force” that make humans want to help others.

Being kind releases a hormone called serotonin, that boosts your mood and makes you feel satisfied. While I am not saying everyone has to go take care of their grandma or do volunteer work to be kind, small acts of kindness like holding open a door for someone else, giving someone a compliment or picking up a piece of litter, can make you more positive and even brighten up your own day.

Additionally, showing others love and kindness builds stronger relationships between you and your family and friends. It strengthens trust and increases communication skills. In fact, being kind helps you live longer. In a study, Quiet Revolution found that in adults, volunteering correlated with lower levels of inflammation, reducing the chance of health issues like diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, obesity and migraines.

While taking care of my grandma, her kindness and unconditional love, has influenced me to be kind and loving to everyone and because of that I hope that I can teach others to be kind as well. Not only did I find that being kind is quite easy to do, it can be helpful to me as well as others. Next time you are having a bad day, be kind to someone and you will find that it will brighten up their day as much as it will yours.