What if I were to tell you of something small you could do every day that requires little effort, improves your mental well-being, increases happiness, reduces stress, enhances feelings of community, and blesses those around you? Would you do it?
Chances are, you already know, but you may not realize how good it is for you. It’s very simple: being kind.
Witnessing A Random Act of Kindness
The other day I was picking blueberries at a U-pick berry farm when I saw a man hand the cashier an extra $20 to cover the berries of a family he had just met out in the fields.
He didn’t do it to score praise or admiration or a date, because he told the cashier to tell the family simply that someone else had already covered their berries, then he left. It was a simple yet powerful act of kindness. It got me thinking.
I, who witnessed this event, was touched. The cashier said that it was the most encouraging thing she had seen all day. The mother of the family he blessed was nearly moved to tears. But what was the man feeling?
Performing Acts of Kindness Can Help You
It turns out performing random acts of kindness not only impacts those you bless, it also has a profound effect on your own mental well-being.
Studies have shown that recalling acts of kindness you have performed increases gratitude, because it reminds you that you are in a place where you can give of yourself and your resources for the good of others.
Kindness also increases your sense of belonging because it connects you to others both through the empathy and compassion you feel, but also through the act of kindness itself.
Essentially, sprinkling your day with acts of kindness reminds you that you are not alone in this world and it takes the focus off of yourself. It decreases selfishness, increases gratitude, and makes the world a better place.
Even the science of kindness sings its praises. When we are intentionally kind or generous to those around us, our brain releases neurochemicals that give us the “helper’s high,” a term coined by Allan Luks and Peggy Payne.
Dopamine and serotonin are released at the moment of kindness, meaning kindness can be an antidote to depression. Finally, oxytocin levels increase, especially when two or more people are involved in the act of kindness. This reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and increases the community bond of those involved.
When kindness comes from a place of sincerity and not a desire for recognition or praise, it truly is one of the best things you can do for your mental well-being.
A List of Acts of Kindness
Here are 15 simple acts of kindness you can perform at anytime and anywhere.
- Bake cookies for your neighbors.
- Compliment a stranger.
- Leave money in the vending machine for the next person.
- Bring your colleague a cup of coffee.
- Leave an encouraging note on someone’s dashboard.
- Help carry an elderly person’s groceries to their car.
- Shovel your neighbor’s driveway when it snows.
- Pay for the movie ticket of the person behind you.
- Go grocery shopping for a senior or a young mom who seems overwhelmed.
- Start a conversation with someone who looks lonely.
- Greet your mail carrier or garbage man with a cold drink on a hot day.
- Write a positive online review of a restaurant you love.
- Invite someone to dinner at your house.
- Get to know the barista at your favorite coffee shop or the receptionist at the office.
- Leave a generous tip.
What better way to improve your own mental well-being than blessing others and reminding the world that true kindness still exists?