By Staff and Faculty Health and Well-being 

What if kindness were not just a passing emotion but a wellspring of inner strength waiting to be cultivated, supporting us as we navigate our lives? Research now reveals that practicing kindness goes beyond mere feel-good moments—it is a profound inner resource that can significantly enhance our health and overall well-being. 

As the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Staff and Faculty Health and Well-being Programgears up for the 2024 Kindness Counts Challenge, we explore the scientific evidence behind kindness as a potent strategy for personal and collective wellness. 

three hearts holding hands and smiling

Kindness and Well-being 

Scientific support for the positive impact of kindness on mental, emotional, and physical health is steadily growing. Acts of kindness not only amplify positive feelings but are linked to reduced stress, heightened happiness, increased life satisfaction, and even improved cardiovascular health. 

In particular, the practice of loving-kindness meditation, involving meditations on directing kind intentions toward oneself and others, has been associated with improved mental well-being, decreased depression, anxiety, and chronic pain as well as enhanced interpersonal relationships.  

Kindness in the Workplace 

The positive effects of kindness practices extend beyond individual well-being, and into the workplace environment. Cultivating a culture of kindness within organizations correlates with enhanced employee engagement, job satisfaction, and overall productivity. For employees, including healthcare providers, there are discernible links among practicing loving-kindness meditation, reduced stress and burnout, and improved relationships. 

Kindness and Inclusivity

In addition to individual and workplace benefits, kindness practices have something to offer our social health and well-being. Loving-kindness meditation practices can be effective in addressing the problem of implicit bias—unconscious attitudes and stereotypes against marginalized groups, that can influence decision-making and lead to discrimination. Research studies have indicated that just 6 weeks of regular practice of loving-kindness meditation was effective in reducing implicit bias against stigmatized groups. 

The Kindness Counts Challenge

Expressing its commitment to employee well-being, UC Davis Staff and Faculty Health and Well-being will launch the month-long 2024 Kindness Counts Challenge on Feb 5, 2024. This initiative includes opportunities to engage in loving-kindness meditation and/or various acts of kindness within the UC Davis community and beyond. 

Kindness is not just a virtue; it's a powerful strategy for enhancing well-being at both the individual and community levels. As scientific evidence underscores the myriad benefits of kindness, initiatives like the Kindness Counts Challenge play a pivotal role in nurturing a culture of compassion and well-being.  

Join us on this transformative journey and let the ripple effect of kindness contribute to a healthier, happier, and more connected community at UC Davis and beyond. 

Living Our Values Tour 

Launching during the Kindness Counts campaign, employees are also encouraged to participate in the Living Our Values Tour, a year-long celebration of UC Davis Health’s values of Kindness, Trust, and Inclusion. It’s an opportunity to reengage with UC Davis Health’s values and recognize employees and teams who live these values in the workplace and with patients. Throughout 2024, you can expect to see guest speakers, heartwarming videos, special content, interactive exercises and more. 

  • Kang, Y., Gray, J. R., & Dovidio, J. F. (2014). The nondiscriminating heart: Lovingkindness meditation training decreases implicit intergroup bias. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(3), 1306–1313.
  • Quirk MJ, ItaiIvtzan, (2018). Soft is hard: building resilience with loving kindness meditation at work. Int J Complement Alt Med,11(3):125-131.
  • Stell, A. J., & Farsides, T. (2016). Brief loving-kindness meditation reduces racial bias, mediated by positive other-regarding emotions. Motivation and Emotion, 40(1), 140–147.
  • Seppala, E. M., Hutcherson, C. A., Nguyen, D. T., Doty, J. R., & Gross, J. J. (2014). Loving-kindness meditation: a tool to improve healthcare provider compassion, resilience, and patient care. Journal of Compassionate Health Care, 1(1), 9–9.
  • Wang, R., Gu, X., Zhang, Y., Luo, K., & Zeng, X. (2023). Loving-kindness and compassion meditations in the workplace: A meta-analysis and future prospects. Stress and Health. 

2024 Kindness Counts Challenge:

February 5 - March 1

Registration required to participate. Learn more below and register to participate.

Flexibility for Everyone

With as little as 5-10 minutes a day, this challenge can support you in developing a kindness practice that can fit into a busy schedule. Whether you are just starting out or already have some experience with kindness practice, we have designed this challenge with enough flexibility for you to make it your own.

Two Types of Practices 

The challenge offers a dynamic mix of practices to suit your preferences: 

  • Kindness Meditations: Practice loving kindness meditations to strengthen your wellbeing. 
  • Informal Acts of Kindness: Engage in everyday opportunities to spread kindness. 

Workplace-Specific Acts of Kindness 

This year, we're introducing workplace-specific acts of kindness every week. Rally your colleagues and turn the challenge into a team-building opportunity. Spread the word in your workplace and make kindness a collective practice! 

What to Expect 

Weekly Guidance: Receive weekly emails with guidance for loving kindness meditations and a variety of theme-based acts of kindness. 

Building on Themes: Each week focuses on a different theme of kindness, creating a progression: 

  • Week 1: Kindness Towards Ourselves
  • Week 2: Kindness Towards Friends/Loved Ones/Benefactors
  • Week 3: Kindness Towards People in Our Lives That We Don't Really Know
  • Week 4: Kindness Towards Everyone

Practice in Community 

  • Digital Community Kindness Wall to Share Your Journey with Others 
  • Live Weekly Kindness Meditations 
  • Bring Along Your Team, Friends, and Family!