“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” These words by Winston Churchill place the virtue of altruism on a high pedestal. Random acts of kindness can be the easiest way to practice altruism and spread joy to others.
Not only are random acts of kindness nurturing to the soul, but they are also beneficial to our health. There are studies that show that performing a kind act releases oxytocin—a chemical in the brain that makes you feel bonded to people when released. Oxytocin also lowers your blood pressure temporarily, which can improve your heart health. A recent article in Psychology Today focused on another benefit of random acts of kindness – the effect it as on those who witness these acts. The author suggests “when you consider performing an act of kindness, think about its potential three way positive effect. There’s the positive effect on the recipient, and the positive effect on you – you might find yourself experiencing the positive emotion of the ‘helper’s high.’ But perhaps the biggest effect of all will be on a passer-by who just happens to witness the act.” This is how one act of kindness can inspire a whole movement.
Now that you know the mental and physical benefits of being kind to others, it is time for a call to action. Below are some samples of simple random acts of kindness to get you started:
1. Cook a meal! If you have a friend that just had a baby or is going through a hard time, make them dinner and take some stress of their hands!
2. Spring cleaning. Go through your closets and donate all the clothes that you do not wear anymore. Find a drop-off right near your house by searching www.donationdropoff.org
3. #feedthedeed. Join the phenomenon and perform a random act of kindness and then nominate your friends on social media to feed the deed and pay it forward!
4. Try on new lenses. Before you complain or speak negatively, take a second look at the situation and try to look for a positive “take-away”.
5. Show gratitude. Send a handwritten thank you card to a co-worker and thank them for their dedication and hard work.
6. Run for charity. Sign up for a 5K fundraiser run/walk with your coworkers. It will be good motivation to train together and raise money!
7. Save a life. Organize a blood donation drive at work and encourage your coworkers to give blood.
8. Pay it forward. When you go out to a coffee shop with coworkers or drive through a toll on your commute, pay for the person behind you.
9. Appreciate their safety. Bring cookies to your local police and fire station with your children to thank them for keeping you safe!
10. Thank their teachers. Encourage your kids to write thank you notes to their teachers or giving them gifts for the holidays and end of the year to thank them for working so hard!
11. Call their grandparents. Show your children the importance of connecting with their grandparents – encourage your children to call just to tell them they love them!
Random acts of kindness can seem simple, but can have a greater impact than you might think. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has some great resources, stories of kindness, and information on the latest research. Visit their website at www.randomactsofkindness.org to check out their “daily kindness idea” and challenge yourself to try to do at least one good deed a day.
Sources: Psychology Today, Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, LifeWork Strategies and Adventist HealthCare.