Share a Little Kindness
When was the last time someone was unexpectedly nice to you – they let you in in traffic, or said hi when you were having a crummy day? How did that make you feel? For most people, those little kindnesses can be a light in a world of mean tweets and honking horns. As an added benefit, it turns out that kind acts can be as good for the giver as the receiver! So why not think about being that light in someone else’s world?
November 13 is World Kindness Day. Launched by the World Kindness Movement in 1998, the goal of World Kindness Day is to inspire people and countries to be more kind to one another.
What is kindness?
Most of us think we’re pretty kind. We do nice things for our families and friends, keep our yards neat, pick up someone’s hat when they drop it, give back to our communities. In short, kindness is about doing for others and behaving nicely without expecting anything in return. It’s doing something pleasant for the sake of doing something pleasant.
Kindness is good for you!
Researchers have shown that being kind – to ourselves or another person – increases happiness. In fact, the more kind acts a person performs, the more their happiness increases. This is because being kind causes your body to release hormones which act on the pleasure centers of the brain.
You might already have experienced the way being kind to someone makes you feel happy too. But did you know that there are health benefits to being kind? Here are some ways being kind might also make you healthier:
- It’s good for your heart. Performing kind acts causes your body to release the hormone oxytocin, which lowers blood pressure and improves heart health.
- It’s good for your mind. Being kind also reduces your body’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and increases serotonin and dopamine, which increase feelings of satisfaction and well-being.
- It might help you live longer. People who volunteer have a lower risk of dying than non-volunteers over the same amount of time. The reasons for this are unclear, but one study said that volunteering gives almost as much benefit as quitting smoking!
Share kindness with the world
It can cost little or nothing to be kind to someone. Holding the door, giving up your seat on transit, letting another car in on the freeway—these things are easy to do, and are appreciated. Some other ideas for making the world a kinder place include:
- Participate in a clean-up. Spend a little time picking up trash in a park or near a waterway. A small investment of your time can help keep our shared environment clean. Better yet, get some friends or coworkers to join you.
- Pay it forward. Pay for the person behind you in the drive through or at the coffee shop. Maybe they’ll share the favor with the person behind them!
- Donate supplies. Donate supplies (or time!) to a school, homeless shelter, or pet rescue. Even a small gift can make a big difference.
- Make a contribution. If you have a little extra this month, think about donating to a charity that’s important to you. Small, consistent donations really help nonprofit budgets.
Easy ways to be kind at work
We spend a third (at least!) of our waking lives at work. So why not try to make it a kinder place? No need for some big gesture—even the simplest things can make someone’s day better.
- Say hi and smile. Don’t just walk to your desk with your head down. Take a second to smile and say hi to your coworkers on the way.
- Give a complement (and mean it). So many things we do are important, but not acknowledged. Complement that person who’s quietly great at what they do.
- Be a good listener. Ask someone how they’re doing, and really listen to their answer. Just be a friendly ear.
- Send a positive email or IM. Just drop a quick message to say hi, or send a funny gif.
- Take a takeout order. Going out for coffee or lunch? See if you can bring something back for a coworker and save them a trip.
Don’t forget to be kind to yourself
- Quiet your inner critic. Would you say the same thing to a friend that you say to yourself? Then don’t. Try talking to yourself about what you did right, or how you can do it better next time instead of beating yourself up.4
- Take a warm bath. Or a walk, or do something else that makes you feel good. You’ll relax and have a better outlook.
- Get plenty of sleep. The world looks much better when you’re well-rested. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. Be sure to factor in some wind-down time to help you relax and make it easier to drift off.
Give it a try!
It can be surprisingly easy to make our hectic, confusing, not-always-nice world a little happier. Do something kind for someone today and see if you don’t feel better, too!