Loved-it, Non-fiction

The Things That A Year of Living Kindly by Donna Cameron Taught Me How Kindness Is Not A Weakness, But A Strength

We’re living in a world that severely lacks kindness. From doors having to be locked to ensure safety to the cold shouder given to a stranger who needs help – we do not practice kindness often enough, thinking it only makes us weaker. Which is quite the opposite! Kindness is not weakness – on the contrary, kindness is a superpower which will find you allies and make the world better. Then why do we not practice it more often? And why do we think that kindness will not benefit us? All of these questions, as well as ways how we could practice more kindness, along with why that’s good for us, is discussed in the book, A Year of Living Kindly: Choices that will Change Your Life and the World Around You.

A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You

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★★★★★ 5 stars

A Year of Living Kindly uses stories, observation, humor and even research to show how kindness can change your life for the better. Donna Cameron shares her own experience of committing to live a whole year as kindly as she was able to and the things she learned along the way. As it turns out, being kind is not only beneficial to the receivers of the kindness – there are plenty of benefits, even health benefits, for the giver of the kindness as well. It’s an inspiring and easy to read guide on how to step over the boundaries that could be hindering you from being more kind to others, and not only others – but also being kind to yourself.

The Difference Between Nice And Kind

A GIF with letters arranging themselves to say “nicer than nice”

We have all been taught to be kind – seemingly. Except a lot of us understand that as being nice. The author explains the vital difference between these two seemingly synonymous ideas. Kindness is compassionate; niceness is kindness, administered in appropriate doses. Kindness is warm and loving; niceness can turn the cold shoulder when it’s not appropriate or inconvenient. Kindness is all out there; niceness is there to an extent – as long as you don’t really have to be involved. And most of all, kindness is done because that’s how you see the world – because it need to be done. And niceness? It’s there because the person who is practicing it wants to be accepted and look good or appease their own conscience, while possibly remaining distant. So tell me, how often have you been kind, and how often were you just being nice?

Is being nice and being kind different? And more importantly, when you're being kind to people, are you actually just being nice instead of kind? Click To Tweet

Kindness Doesn’t Mean Turning Into A Saint

A GIF of a piggy flying with little angel wings

This is a common misconception why people tend to think that kindness is not for them. Or that they’re doing it wrong. Because there will always be days when you get angry, snarky… Because you’re yourself. Because kind people must be saints, and you’re not, so what’s the point in even trying? Weil, being kind is not a destination. It’s a journey. It’s every little thing you do on the way. Kindness is an everlasting journey, and Donna Cameron explains it well, at the same time motivating you to at least try sometimes, even if you don’t think you can (or should) be trying constantly.

Health Benefits To Kindness?

A GIF of the word ’empathy’ being explained as being made up of the words “in” and “feeling”

Turns out, being kind is something our bodies like doing. Practicing kindness, and even receiving or witnessing kindness raises the serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, so making us momentarily happier. It also tends to produce oxytocin, which can help lower the blood pressure and inflammation. Not only that, but cooperation and kindness eases relationships, and in so doing, reduces your daily stress levels. It’s also inspiring and emotionally uplifting, as well as contagious. So we can all spread this happiness virus!

When kindness becomes a habit, it gets easier and easier to practice it, because we establish neural pathways in the brain that make these reactions even easier to experience. So yes, it gets easier with time! Kindness can replace negativity, and the need for negative thoughts, concentration on how unhappy one is or how one doesn’t measure up can be replaced with thinking of others and how to make the world a better place – until there’s no time left for negativity. Instead of pondering how bad it is, now you get to ponder what to do about it. But it’s not only that – because being kind also means an aspect we often forget – that we must also be kind to ourselves.

Kindness can replace negativity, and the need for negative thoughts can be replaced with thinking of others and how to make the world a better place – until there's no time left for negativity. Click To Tweet

Kindness Towards Yourself

A GIF of a doggy, holding up a sign that says, “Be nice to yourself, believe in yourself, save a cookie for yourself, love yourself”

For many, this will be the hardest kindness to achieve. Even for those who have been called selfish and egocentric, kindness to oneself may not come naturally at all. we are conditioned to negatively self-talk, to observe our results, to push ourselves and strive for perfection, and that often creates strain, stress. But the key to kindness is happiness, just as kindness is a key to happiness as well. A happier person will be more inclined to be kind and “spread the vibe”. A happier person will be less prone to make someone unhappy, to be unkind. So what follows is that the more we love ourselves and care for our own well being, the more inner resources we will have to be kinder to others.

A happier person will be more inclined to be kind and less prone to make someone unhappy. So the more we love ourselves and care for our wellbeing, the more inner resources we will have to be kinder to others. #selfcare #kindness Click To Tweet

What Can Kindness Be?

A GIF of a bunch of confused puppies, moving their heads in a questioning manner, with little question marks above their heads

So, okay, we’ve established that being kind is cool and that’s what we want to be. But have you ever stopped to really wonder what kindness can be? Is kindness grand, or can it be small? Must I conquer world hunger to be kind? This book is incredibly good at simplifying this part. Easy, small changes you might have never really thought about can change your daily habits and result in more kindness in your life. Sometimes it’s something as small as being patient to your spouse or smiling to the cashier, or even not declining a compliment. There are no limits to how big or small your kindness can be!

Have you ever stopped to wonder what kindness can be? Is it grand, or can it be small? Must I conquer world hunger to be kind? A Year of Living Kindly simplifies this – there are no limits to how big or small your kindness can be: Click To Tweet


A Year of Living Kindly is organized in small bites – the chapters are relatively short and can be read with your morning coffee or every night before bed. They are to the point and concentrated, and they also include suggestions at the end of every chapter for what you can do or improve in your daily interactions to bring more kindness into your life. It will also tell you what the most common obstacles to kindness are and how you can avoid them. It actually makes it simple! And that’s essentially what we need in a world that is so head over heels that we often don’t even remember what we had for breakfast.

I thank She Writes Press and Donna Cameron for giving me a free copy of the book in exchange to my honest opinion. Receiving the book for free does not affect my opinion.

Have you thought about kindness and its place in your life? Do you try to be more kind to others? And do you think it could also help you feel better about your life?

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Paul Liadis
2 years ago

This sounds interesting and helpful. Thanks for sharing!

2 years ago

A lovely feature piece. I don’t think a lot of people consider the differences between kindness and niceness very often. It sounds like a very interesting and wholesome read. I will add it to my Goodreads 🙂

Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)

I like the sound of this book. I hadn’t thought about a distinction between being kind and being nice before, but your explanations make sense. It’s especially beneficial that being kind to others helps both parties

Laura Thomas
2 years ago

This gives me something to think about. I think what I find difficult is trying to be kind and being rejected because of the fear that we all seem to have. It’s a dangerous place out there. I consider being kind a strength. Funny coincidence about your discussion post. I was talking to my son about an hour ago and I told him one of his biggest strengths was his kindness:)

2 years ago

There’s so much ugliness in the world right now, but also a lot of niceness – I absolutely agree that we need more kindness, and I firmly believe that it can start with just one person. Thank you for this very thoughtful review! On my way to check out this book now.

Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

This sounds like a really interesting read teaching us to not just be better in our today but look at how our actions are impacting those around us. I had never considered the difference between niceness and kindness and do feel that I may now be guilty of being nice when it would have been better to be kind. I think the world would be better if we could all remember to be a little kinder to others. I think I like the sound of this book which can be consumed in small doses.

2 years ago

That is a great book to start the year with. Unsurprisingly I am reading a non fiction as well and I will start with buddy read right after that.

Accepting self love is one of my goals this year. I am shocked at how difficult that is, sometimes. I hope you had a good New Year’s eve.

Lisa @ lilistarreads
2 years ago

I didn’t actually know there was a difference between nice and kind before reading this post! In work we have a calendar that everyday challenges us to be kinder and doing it makes me feel happier.

2 years ago

This does sound really good! Thanks for sharing!


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Sim @ Flipping Through the Pages

It sounds like an interesting read. Yes, there is a difference between niceness and kindness and I guess the author has explained it beautifully in the book.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a quite good middle-grade book explaining the importance of being kind 🙂

2 years ago

I loved this book too! And I think I have a problem with being nice more than being kind which I am trying my best to get better at. Growing up, being nice was something really important to my family, and sometimes I had to do things just to be nice so I always had not so nice thoughts, but now I catch myself in the moment and I stop and replace my snarky thoughts with kindness!

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2 years ago

[…] The Things That A Year of Living Kindly by Donna Cameron Taught Me on Avalina’s Books. An amazing review for A Year of Living Kindly, a book that I also read and loved. So read the review and also get the book, both are worth it! […]