“Kindness is the one size fits all gift that everybody needs.”
Science is finally catching on to the kindness movement, recognizing that thoughtfulness is not a sign of weakness but a healthy and meaningful habit.
What may appear to be a very simple act is actually a rather complex experience for us humans. Even observing kindness can have an impact on us. We experience kindness in our heart as in “his kind act touched my heart” as well as in our head because we remember kindness and are sometimes inspired to be kind to others as a result of having the experience.
When I was researching my first book Inspiration in Action: A Woman’s Guide to Happiness, I had a study group who would play along with some of my ideas, one of which was an experiment called The Mindfulness Project. I challenged the participants to carry out simple, thoughtful acts for other people for one week. Some were asked to give compliments freely for a week, others were asked to buy someone a cup of coffee, or smile at three people. The results were inspiring, as each person reported back that they felt the power in a small kind act, even when they weren’t the recipient. Science calls this effect “helpers high.”
Acts of kindness have tremendous physical benefits. Showing kindness, releases the hormone oxytocin, which produces nitric oxide that helps lower blood pressure. Oxytocin also supports good self-esteem and optimism. So, next time you’re feeling shy, show someone some kindness and you’ll feel the benefit too.
“In the same way that it wouldn’t take much to turn your day around, ask what you could do for someone else.”
A few years ago, I used a simple strategy to spread kindness. I wrote thank you notes on a piece of paper, folded it in half and placed it under random windshield wipers in the parking lot, outside my doctor’s office, outside a hospital, in a very full downtown parking lot; always when I thought nobody could see me. The message inside would say “you have a beautiful smile” or “you make our world better by being here” or “you are loved,” you get the idea. I’d write For You on the front of the paper and leave it under the windshield wiper. While I’ll never know how those messages were received, I know what I intended and I definitely felt that “helpers high.”
The cool thing about kindness is that it’s absolutely free. Kindness is a smile, looking someone in the eye, saying thank you, giving compliments freely. It’s assisting someone when it looks like they need it, it’s doing something kind for someone and not telling anyone about it.
Kindness can be learned and it’s an excellent habit to cultivate because kindness has magical powers. The kinder you are to others, the more kindness comes to you in ways you would never anticipate. Kindness when practiced regularly helps to reduce stress and leads to a feeling of wellbeing.
If you choose to see the world with kindness instead of fear, you’ll have a much better day and everyone around you will benefit. I challenge you to foster kindness in your community and notice what a difference it makes for you and everyone you encounter. All you have to do is ask yourself what small act of kindness could you do for someone to make their day brighter? Then enjoy doing it. Be kind; live well.