You Can Touch Lives with One Small Act
It's World Kindness Day and that's a great reminder that being kind can change lives, in small but powerful ways. Indeed, research shows that kindness is great for both giver and receiver and it tends to multiply and expand.
I remember being in line in the grocery store and a woman and I chatted about a specific cookbook for sale. She looked at it longingly and said her children would love making those recipes. I saw her count out small change for her limited groceries, and decided to buy her the cookbook. She was stunned, but very grateful. I told her to have a wonderful time with her children - that thinking about it made me smile. It made us both feel good.
Kindness is also good for your health. Here's how:
- Empathy towards strangers increases the oxytocin (feel good hormone) in your body by 47%! (Claremont Graduate University study) ) This lowers your blood pressure and helps your heart function better.
- Being kind at least once a week increases your happiness.
- Kindness and empathy reduce inflammation in your body, by its impact on your vagus nerve.
- Kindness is contagious. People tend to pay acts of kindness forward, such as when someone pays for your toll on the highway. The tendency is you pay for the next person, etc., etc.
A poignant example in the NE Journal of Medicine: a 28 year old donated a kidney at a clinic. It created a ripple effect where the loved ones of kidney recipients donated one of theirs to others waiting for a kidney. The ‘domino effect’, spanned the entire United States, with 10 people receiving a new kidney thanks to that anonymous donor.
Here are a few ways you can demonstrate kindness:
Pay for someone's parking meter, buy someone a cup of coffee, put a post it note with kind words on someone's desk, sweep your neighbor's walkway, give sincere and specific praise, carry an elderly person's groceries to their car, let someone into traffic, cuddle animals at a shelter, say thank you to the maintenance crew, smile. There are infinite ways to be kind to others, and it can make your day as well as theirs.