Being kind to someone isn’t a novel idea. We often take measures to show family members and friends our love and appreciation through different acts of service. Sharing that kindness with a stranger, however, likely happens less frequently. If you needed a reason to live outside your comfort zone and perform random acts of kindness, consider what research says about how even the simplest act can positively affect your health, mood, and energy level.
What are Random Acts of Kindness?
There are a few qualifiers that allow specific acts to fall into the random acts of kindness category. As the name implies, these are small or large acts of kindness that are performed unexpectedly. There’s no premeditation to the event or recipient. For example, maybe you offer to carry grocery bags to the vehicle for an elderly individual or pay for the cup of coffee for the person in line behind you while going through the drive thru. While the recipient of your kind act is often a stranger, kindness can also be shared with a family member or friend.
Benefits of Random Acts of Kindness
Studies from around the world show performing acts of kindness helps generate a calmness, energy and clarity. You may say being kind offers more for the doer of deeds rather than the recipient.
- Increases energy: Research from Berkeley noted nearly half of people who performed a kind act for someone reported feeling energized and had a greater sense of self-esteem and feeling of calmness. This is because kindness produces serotonin, generating a feeling of tranquility.
- Enhances happiness: If managing your finances stresses you out, maybe you should incorporate giving some away. A Harvard study shows those who are unselfish with money and charitable when it comes to their cash are generally the happiest.
- Kindness is heart healthy: Those who are purposeful about being a part of acts of kindness may improve their overall heart health. Viewing kind acts releases oxytocin, used by the body to lower blood pressure.
- Improves life expectancy: In Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, author Christine Carter reveals individuals 55 and older who volunteer for two or more groups are 44 percent less likely to die early, despite health, gender, smoking, marital status and more.
- Reduces stress: Being kind to others helps reduce your pain, anxiety, depression, and stress. Research reveals those who participate in acts of kindness have 23 percent less cortisol in their bodies. The stress hormone is lowered and nitric oxide increases, dilating blood vessels and reducing blood pressure.
Simple Random Acts of Kindness
Now that you know the benefits, if you’re ready to start dishing out acts of kindness, use our list of ideas to get started.
- Leave a handwritten note of inspiration in an obvious space for someone.
- Drop some money in an expired parking meter.
- Verbalize a compliment.
- Walk the neighbor’s dog.
- Bake cupcakes for your office.
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
- Call someone with whom you haven’t spoken in a while.
- Send a gift of encouragement to a friend facing an emotional hardship.
Random acts of kindness don’t have to be expensive or call for much of your time. Think of ways you can brighten someone’s day and set the path in motion. Science shows you’re just as likely to get something out of the act as the recipient.