“If every person spent one minute of every day committing a random act of kindness, we would change the world.” – http://www.randomactsofkindsness.org
This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, and I thought of no better way to celebrate as we lead up to Valentine’s Day, the ultimate day of spreading love around. When we act kindly, we are doing things that help others, with no expectation of something in return. It means taking a moment or two or three to make someone’s day, whether they be a family member, friend, co-worker or stranger.
Why bother? There have been scientific studies that indicate a strong link between random acts of kindness and overall good physical and mental health. It’s not just about “being nice” in the moment, but there are long-term benefits in that one becomes happier over time – feeling more optimistic and positive. And it’s not just you that reaps the rewards: sure, you enjoy the “helper’s high” from giving, but you also help the recipient lift their spirits, and another who happens to see the act and potentially passes it on. Change can happen!
When we look at the physiological benefits of helping randomly, they can include:
- an improved immune system
- enhanced cognitive performance
- an increase in energy
- reduced stress hormone levels, lower blood pressure, and heart rate
- feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth
Where can you start? Here are some simple examples of random acts of kindness that you can do today:
1. Compliment someone:
Whenever you see someone wearing a nice outfit or sporting a new haircut, giving her/him a compliment can really light up their day.
2. Pay it forward
If you go through the drive- thru, pay for a cookie or coffee for the person in the car behind you. An unexpected treat can make bring on a smile, and hopefully, they will pay for something for the person behind them.
3. Let someone take your place in line:
Take a look at the person behind you – are they looking at their watch? Are they with kids? Are they elderly or disabled? If you are not in a rush, give away your space in line. Those few minutes can make a difference, if you have some to spare.
4. Free Labour:
We don’t think about doing jobs like mowing the lawn, cleaning the house or babysitting as ones we could do for free, so imagine surprising someone by not accepting their payment. If you have a friend or family member who is struggling financially, offering to do their house or yard work is a great help that doesn’t cost you money, either.
5. Find A New Lunch mate:
Invite a classmate or co-worker you don’t know to sit with you at lunch. They will appreciate it if they tend to eat alone. Chances are, you’ll find something you both have in common and they’ll feel included.
6. Visit or Call the Sick
Being sick can make you feel lonely, and concerned about not being able to do your routine tasks. A phone call asking how they are, visiting them, or even just sending flowers or a card can go a long way. Offer to take care of some of those tasks they can’t get to, like making a meal, walking their dog, bringing in their mail or picking up some items at the grocery store can take some pressure off and speed healing.
Or, you can…
- Open a door for someone
- Offer your seat to someone on the subway or bus
- Say “thank you” when someone opens a door for you
- Help someone take their groceries to their car
- Offer to remove the snow from your neighbour’s driveway with your shovel or snow blower
- Offer to push the button for someone in the elevator, say “good morning” or “hello”.
And if you choose to do one RAK this week, why not smile? After all, it is the universal language of expressing warmth!
What does kindness mean to you? Do you think if everyone did more random acts of kindness, we could effect change? Please share your comments below.