I hope this week has been kind to you all. Today I would like to speak about the importance of random acts of kindness. A friend/ co-worker of mine told me a story where she helped a strange woman who was visibly distressed on the street. She had misplaced all her money while in town and didn’t know what to do. My friend stayed, helped her retrace her steps and when the money could not be found, put her in a cab home. Not many people take the time to help others that way so this week, I would like to talk about the mental health benefits of conducting such acts.
I wondered if I would have done the same and truthfully the answer is no. I’m usually very focused on what I’m currently doing so I’m not even sure I would have noticed someone in distress on a busy street in town. Second, a lot of us tend to ignore others as it’s “none of our business” or we are afraid the person would lash out and end up embarrassing us. I am guilty of this and this is the wrong way to be. It is so important to do these little random acts of kindness. It is important for both our and other’s good mental health.
What is a random act of kindness? It is a selfless act, no matter how small, by a person or group with an intent to do a good deed or cheer a person up.
Can’t figure out what to do? Here are some ideas for random acts of kindness.
1. Compliment people- even strangers. If you notice someone has a nice smile or eyes etc., be sure to tell them. If it’s someone you know like a co-worker and you like something as simple as their shoes– tell them. This takes no time and costs nothing.
2. Listen to people when they seem to have a problem they would like to share- don’t interrupt!
3. Donate to a charity. Now, this does not have to be a monetary donation –- give old clothes, make cookies- anything.
4. Not in a position to donate any goods? Donate services, donate your time. Read to children or elderly, play games with them or educate them.
5. Recycle or clean up trash when you see it, especially if it’s in front of people’s homes or business.
6. We live in a social media age. If you come across something uplifting or funny online, share it so others can enjoy it as well.
7. It is important to also share a good book you have read.
8. If you receive good customer service somewhere (which let’s be honest is rare in Guyana), tell a manager or the owner so that person is rewarded and it can continue.
9. Learn the names of everyone you come into contact with every day– no matter their position to yours- everyone is important so always say hello.
10. If you can, buy food for the next homeless person you see.
11. If you are around people who are gossiping or saying something bad about someone, be the person to add in something positive. After all, everyone has some good qualities- even if we don’t like them.
12. Lastly and just as important, be kind to yourself. Write a list of three things that you like about yourself every day. This will make you feel happier, confident and grateful.
What can being kind to others do for you?
I’ve done some research on this and found that people who are kind-hearted produce on average 23 percent less cortisol (the stress hormone) than those who are not.
Therefore, being kind
– Lowers stress
– Lowers blood pressure
– Allows slower ageing
– Increases energy
– Boosts happiness
– Inspires more kindness as kindness is contagious
Being kind has these effects on both you and the person receiving the kindness.
Overall, kindness makes us happier. When we do something kind for someone, we feel good. This is especially if it’s openly appreciated. That warm feeling we get is the hormone oxytocin being produced. I spoke of this ‘love hormone’ on Valentine’s Day.
Kindness makes for better relationships – this is obvious. We are all attracted to people who show us kindness- this is human nature. It reduces emotional distance between individuals where new relationships are forged or old ones are strengthened.
Kindness makes people smile and have we ever thought about the importance of a smile? If we are lucky, we do it hundreds of times a day but have we really thought what it does for us? Smiling and laughing has positive effects on our wellbeing.
When we smile or laugh, many physiological changes occur in our body. Endorphins are released based on the way our muscles move and position during smiling. There is a theory known as the ‘Facial Feedback Hypothesis’ which suggests that even if we fake smile, the brain interrupts the muscles as sincere and makes us happier regardless. Try it now to feel happier and less stressed! 🙂
Research also shows that people who smile and are more relaxed in job/school interviews come off as more approachable, appealing, confident and capable which results in a higher probability of being hired or accepted.
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Say yes to life and no to drugs! Always!