Have you ever been late from shopping or an appointment and rushed back to your car expecting to find that dreaded parking ticket plastered against your windshield, but pleasantly surprised, you see that there is instead extra time on the meter? Someone had secretly slipped some extra change in there, hoping you would avoid the frustration, and the financial headache of having to deal with a ticket. That, my friends was a random act of kindness. Someone did something for you, excepting absolutely nothing in return. What about that time you went through the drive-thru to grab that much need coffee, only to find out that the person in the car ahead of you had already paid for it, how awesome did that feel, another random act of kindness.
Just the other day I took someone to the ER and while I was paying for parking, this sweet little lady came up to me and asked if she could pay for my parking. I thanked her but politely declined her offer, explaining that I had already paid and that just her thoughtfulness was beautiful. She asked for a hug and I was more than happy to give her one. We said goodbye and off she went. As I sat in the waiting room, my phone rang and when I went to answer there was a shiny twoonie (Canadian $2.00 coin) sparkling back at me. I had a good chuckle over it. The lady had slipped it in while we hugged, a random act of kindness.
To those of you who have never been the recipients of a random act of kindness do not feel bad, because there is something even better than receiving one, and that is giving one. It has been proven time and time again that kindness reciprocates kindness; it’s a ripple effect. If you don’t believe me you can look here at The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Yes, there is actually a foundation.
Guess what else has proven to benefit being kind and doing small things for others, your health. By doing a good deed for others it can:
- Decrease isolation which can provide a sense of belonging or community
- Improve confidence, happiness, and calmness
- Provide positive feelings about yourself which you can later draw upon when you’re not feeling so good about yourself
- Lessen hostility
- Increase compassion and empathy
Random acts of kindness can be whatever you choose them to be. The studies have shown that for your own health, spreading them out over one day (let’s say 3 acts) is more beneficial than doing one every other day for a week. Ultimately what is going to happen is that you are going to feel really good about helping someone out, and that ripple effect will happen, you may not see it, but it will. Not everyone is going to pay it forward, but that’s not for you to worry about. Just focus on how good it feels to do a little something for someone, without expecting anything in return. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Give up your seat on a bus to someone who needs it more than you do.
- Let a person in line behind you at a store go ahead of you
- Volunteer somewhere in your community that makes a difference to you
- Send flowers to someone (anonymously)
- Babysit for a night for someone who you know doesn’t get kid-free time (for free)
- Use the waste baskets that are all over the place, your community will thank you
- Give that homeless person some change or a meal, without judgment
- Donate your no longer needed stuff (in good condition)
Be careful though, there are serious side effects to preforming random acts of kindness. Here’s a great PsychCentral article for you on kindness to reduce stress. I promise you that this can change your life in the most positive way possible. You can improve your physical health, your mental health, and you can make someone happy, which then makes you happy too. Win win. Kindness, it’s great for your soul.