Doing something kind for someone else, particularly when there is a positive response, even a simple smile, can combat depression, reduce stress, increase self-confidence, and in general make us a little bit happier. Neurological and behavioral science research shows performing simple acts of kindness release a host of endorphins including oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine.
It can take less than a minute to do a simple of act of kindness.
Dedicate 66-days to doing at least one Random Act of Kindness daily.
But really you should do more, because some are just good manners — like holding doors for the people coming behind you or who have their hands full; offering a seat to the elderly, pregnant or with infants, injured or handicapped; or saying “Thank you” when someone does something for you.
What counts as a Simple Random Act of Kindness?
A very brief email to someone to keep in touch (or something really radical like an actual handwritten note, although an e-card is a digital option). Or a reply to a coworker’s email letting him or her know you liked his or her ideas. A supportive comment to someone on social media (ideally, you should be more personal than simply clicking the “Like” button, though even that gives a dopamine spurt (hence Mark Zuckerberg’s billions). One of my personal favorites is the “Pay for the Person Behind You” where people pay for the drink or order of the next person in line at a coffeehouse or fast food restaurant. Maybe it’s grabbing dinner to bring home so your partner doesn’t have to fix it. Or just cleaning out the litter box without being asked. Even flashing someone a smile when they don’t expect it can give both of you a lift. (More about the power of smiles soon.)
And it turns out that not only do you get an endorphin kick from your random acts of kindness, but business research is showing career benefits, especially for kindness on social media. People who regularly engaged in small acts of positive support for coworkers, clients, friends, and others in their social networks, often enjoyed enhanced reputations and received more support, career success, and financial opportunities than the less sociable or more self-centered.
I know it’s hard in our cynical world to believe that one small act of kindness can make a difference, but like drops of water on rocks, if there are enough of them you can end up with a canyon — a Grand Canyon. For the truly cynical, do it daily because it gives you psychological, physical, and even social benefits.
Perhaps you’ll find the videos below inspiring (or at least interesting). Please share your Random Acts of Kindness (either planned or accomplished) and any results in the comments below.
And for some reason I can’t find this TED video on TED (they really need to work on their internal search engine), so I’m sharing it via YouTube.
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