Choose Joy For World Kindness Day

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated April 30, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

World Kindness Day, which occurs every year on November 13, is a global movement to promote being kind to others, yourself, and your environment. Kindness can promote happiness and connection and may also significantly impact mental health. To learn more about this holiday, it may be helpful to read more about the history of World Kindness Day, the impact of kindness on mental health, and how you can spread joy on this day. 

A woman in a white shirt smiles while standing near a window in her home and gazing out.
Get matched with a therapist to improve your well-being

History of World Kindness Day

World Kindness Day was founded in 1998 and was introduced by the World Kindness Movement, a global coalition of NGOs. Today, the holiday is celebrated in schools, libraries, and communities worldwide.

World Kindness Day aims to recognize the joy of being kind. Research shows that kindness can decrease stress and improve confidence, self-esteem, and optimism, among other benefits. Kindness can be the common thread that connects humans, regardless of their background, culture, race, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion, gender, or location. Celebrating World Kindness Day can remind individuals to make an effort to be kind every day.

Spreading joy for World Kindness Day

You can celebrate World Kindness Day through small gestures like writing a thank-you card to someone you’re grateful for or more considerable efforts like putting on a community event to promote kindness. Below are five ideas to get started. 

Compliment three people on World Kindness Day

It may seem awkward to compliment someone if you’re not used to this gesture. However, compliments toward your spouse or a stranger may improve their day, boosting their confidence and making them happy. Complimenting others can also strengthen relationships and enhance well-being.

Be kind to your environment

Kindness extends beyond supporting people. Being kind to your environment can be essential to connecting to and appreciating the world around you. For National Kindness Day, consider picking up trash at a local park or joining a local environmental activist’s group. You can also plant a tree or garden for bees, butterflies, and other wildlife.

A man in an orange beanie smiles brightly while sitting in his home and looking at the cellphone in his hand.

Send an uplifting card or text message to someone you appreciate

There may not be such a thing as “too much gratitude.” Sending positive messages to your loved ones about how much you love them, what you appreciate about them, and how grateful you are that they are in your life can be a way to add more kindness to the world for World Kindness Day. In addition to improving their day, you can reap benefits. Research shows that grateful people tend to be less depressed, get better sleep, have better relationships, and become happier in general.

Buy a stranger’s coffee

Acts of kindness, such as buying a stranger’s coffee or holding the door for the person behind you, may improve someone’s mood and create a ripple effect of positivity, leading to the person you were kind to being kind to another person. These seemingly “small” kind acts may make a significant difference. 


Volunteering your time and energy can help you give kindness to your community. You may wish to volunteer at local kindness organizations, such as an animal shelter, a food bank, or a retirement community. In addition to helping others, volunteering may benefit you. Research shows that volunteer work can boost self-confidence, reduce stress, and lead to lower rates of depression and anxiety.

Kindness vs. niceness

Some people use the words “nice” and “kind” interchangeably. However, the definitions of each word differ: a nice person may be polite or generally friendly, while a kind person performs good deeds for others and may be seen as altruistic. 

It can be beneficial to be both nice and kind, but kindness may make a more significant impact than niceness. According to Houston Kraft, author of “Deep Kindness: A Revolutionary Guide for the Way We Think, Talk, and Act in Kindness”:

“Putting the pieces together, kindness is a deliberate action of friendliness or care that chooses to see others as if they were connected to you in some meaningful way. It is a choice to practice empathy, connection, and generosity to meet the needs of another.”

Experts report that being kind to yourself or someone else, or even observing acts of kindness regularly, can boost happiness. 

The impact of kindness on mental health

Being kind may be as beneficial for you as it is for the people around you. Treating the people in your life with love and compassion can increase the amount of joy and positivity you experience daily. Consider the following statistics on kindness and mental health:

  • Engaging in acts of kindness can significantly reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.
  • Being kind can boost your mood by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, leading to satisfaction and increased well-being.
  • Kindness can improve social connections, potentially reducing one’s risk of loneliness, isolation, and depression.
  • Research suggests that focusing on being kind to other people may improve psychological distress and well-being.
  • Kindness can also be valuable for the body, decreasing blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol.

Life can be difficult, and choosing to be kind to yourself and others can make even the most difficult moments seem more manageable. In addition to providing mental and physical health benefits, being kind allows you to spread joy by connecting with others in a genuine way, leading to a more compassionate and united world.

Therapy as a tool for improving mental health 

If you’re struggling to be kind to yourself or believe you would benefit from mental health support, it might be valuable to consider therapy. Some people who struggle with self-compassion work with therapists to increase their self-love, helping them become more confident and have a healthier outlook. 

Therapy can also be an effective tool for treating mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). You can find a therapy type that works well for you, whether group sessions or one-on-one appointments. 

If you face barriers to in-person therapy, you might also appreciate the convenience of online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp, which allows you to connect with a licensed mental health professional from the comfort of your home. Studies show that online therapy can be as effective as traditional in-office therapy for treating several mental health conditions. For example, one recent study demonstrated that online compassion-based therapy significantly improved psychological distress in a group of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS).

A woman in a blue shirt sits behind her open laptop and smiles while gazing off.
Get matched with a therapist to improve your well-being

If you’re considering working with a therapist, you may be uncertain where to start. For some, online therapy can be a helpful first step into therapy because it is flexible, convenient, and allows you to engage in therapy in a setting that you’re comfortable with. Studies show that online therapy is as effective at treating anxiety and PTSD as in-person therapy and, in some cases, is more effective than in-person therapy at treating depression. 


Join the world kindness movement by celebrating World Kindness Day on November 13. Engaging in a few positive deeds may brighten your day, spread joy, inspire kindness in others, and create a ripple effect towards a kinder world. For those who struggle with feeling joy or having a positive outlook, remember that you are not alone. Consider contacting a licensed therapist online or in your area for support.

Learn how to cope with challenging events
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started