In my happiness project this month’s theme is gratitude. I have been consciously aware of the things I have to be grateful for, making sure that I let the people in my life that I am thankful for them. And yes, I do feel blessed by all the wonderful and beautiful things in my life.
Yet although I feel great, I have found that these actions have only been level one of the layers of gratitude. In my experience, feeling so good about my life brings me such joy that I can’t help but want to spread that feeling around. And where better place to start than inspire gratitude in others by than by little acts of random kindness? That has been this week’s mission and in doing this I made a discovery
I have discovered how random acts of kindness enriches not only someone else but also enriches your life and gives us more to be grateful for.
For example one morning this week, I was standing in line at a kiosk tired and demotivated. However, the woman in front of me was obviously having just as a bad day as me. She tried two cards and both were declined. She scrabbled in her bag looking for change, only to find none. Eventually she asked the sales assistant to serve me whilst she made a call. As I was being served I could hear her phoning her student loan to ask why her money hadn’t been paid in. All so she could have a coffee and a sandwich. Now from experience I know how this can ruin your day. So I told the sales assistant to add her things to my bill and paid for them. I have always wanted to so this and it seemed like as good a time as any. Bless her the stressed out lady looked so grateful (and a little bit shocked). She thanked me and I left. It felt great. I knew that that little act of kindness will have turned her day around.
Could I afford it? Well not really. Money has been tight here of late. But the emotional effects were so enriching. It made me think of times in my life where I too had not had the money to pay for food. And people helped me out. It reminded me of how grateful I was for their kindness. And how grateful I was to be in a position to so it for someone else now. I spent the morning glowing with gratitude, both for my past and my present. For the cost of a coffee and a sandwich I felt energised, blessed, lucky, grateful and so very abundant. In short I felt happy.
Why is it random acts of kindness makes us feel so good?
Well there is a lot of research out there. Studies have proved that random acts of kindness make us
- Feel grateful by giving us a heightened sense of our own good fortune
- Feel empathy and compassion creating a sense of interconnectedness with other people
- Feel less stressed and happier by the dopamine, serotonin, and endogenous opioids released by kind behavior.
Compassion and kindness also reduce stress, boost our immune systems, and help reduce negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and depression. Being kind to someone else moves us out focusing on us and our problems and empowers us by helping someone elses.
Random acts of kindness are good for us mentally and physically
Research has also proved that by witnessing little acts of kindness it can release the same feel good chemicals and experience in the observer. One act of kindness can release an enormous chain of positive events. Imagine that the slightly grumpy sales assistant felt happier after seeing me help someone out and consequently was nicer to the sleeping morning commuters, they felt better going into work after that, brought a nicer vibe to the office, giving them a good day and happiness to their home in the evening. She might have been inspired herself to do a random act of kindness herself. It’s impossible to say if that happened. However it is possible that my little action did make a lot of other people feel better on a grey day. I’d like to think so.
Random acts of kindness cost us nothing and bring an amazing benefit to our lives as well it gives us and other people something to be grateful for.
It basically deepens our gratitude and enriches our lives for free. Now who doesn’t want that! You’d almost be cutting off your nose to spite your face if you didn’t try it.
There are so many ways that you can be kind, such as:
- Letting someone cut in front of you in a traffic jam.
- Stopping to talk with an elderly neighbor, even though you are in a rush.
- Lending a helping hand to a co-worker who’s behind on their project, even though this means that you will have to stay late at work
- Sending something funny on fb to a friend having a bad day
And I am sure you can think of thousands more. Random acts of kindness can truly transform not only your day but your life. And it can take less than two minutes to do.
If you could do one random act of kindness today, what would that be?
Have a beautiful weekend