Spreading little acts of random kindness
For the month of February I want to focus on how we can spread a little kindness, love and generosity.
It’s Valentine’s this month, and maybe you will be planning on showing someone special how much you care, but wouldn’t it be nice to show that a little every day rather than on just one day.
We don’t have to be in a relationship to do this, we can show kindness to everyone we meet in some way.
Strangely we usually end up feeling so much better when we do something kind or caring for someone else, so it’s a win/win for everyone.
I’m going to give you lots of ideas and the science behind why we should spread a little kindness everyday!
Did you know that being kind to others can make you happier?
In a 6 week study, 500 people were divided into 4 groups and were asked to perform acts of kindness:
Group 1 – to others around them
Group 2 – to the larger world
Group 3 – just for themselves
Group 4 – to no one
Their psychological and emotional wellbeing was measured before and after, and those that had been kinder to others and to the larger world were found to be happier.
Surprisingly, those who had been kind to themselves reported no significant difference in their happiness, which was quite a surprise. (But don’t that stop you being kind to yourself with some every day self-care!!)
When we are feeling a little low, it can be quite natural to focus on doing something nice for ourselves to make us feel better, but maybe helping others would be much better.
Did you know that kindness can reduce depression?
When we are feeling low or depressed it is natural to focus inwards and want to keep ourselves away from others and the outside world. It’s our natural defense mechanism designed to keep us out of danger or what we perceive as possible danger, it conserves our energy and strength.
However studies show that those who go out into the community and help others show a remarkable improvement.
By looking beyond ourselves and instead at the needs of others and doing good deeds, we can get what is sometimes called the ‘helper’s high’. Being kind can change our brain chemistry and boost the levels of dopamine (our reward hormone) and serotonin (our happy hormone). It also produces oxytocin which helps us bond with each other and endorphins that are the body’s natural version of morphine – all in all a natural high!
Did you know that kindness is good for your heart?
The Roseto Effect
(taken from ‘The Five Side Effects of Kindness’ by Dr David Hamilton)
Roseto is a town in Pennsylvania whose inhabitants took part in a 50 year study starting in the 1960’s. It was found that not a single person had died of heart disease under the age of 45, and the death rate in the over 65’s was significantly lower than the rest of the country. It wasn’t until 1970 that anyone under the age of 55 died of a heart attack.
When they investigated further they couldn’t find a reason why this was so, it wasn’t their diet or environment, or even the water.
But eventually they found that it was the close community bonds within the town that had protected them from heart disease.
By sharing, cooperating, helping and giving they were creating masses of oxytocin which it turn protects the heart. Oxytocin is known to be cardio protective.
And finally did you know that kindness can help with mental wellbeing?
In 2008 the “Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project” was published by the UK Government Office for Science, and concluded that one of the ways to improve mental wellbeing was:
“Give or do something nice for a friend or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself and your happiness, as linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with people around you”
how can you spread a little kindness this month?
Listen to a friends problems
Pick up something someone has dropped.
Volunteer or raise money for a local charity.
Call in on a lonely neighbour or relative
Help in your local community
Buy some extra food and give to the local food bank
Give someone you care about a hug
Buy a small gift for someone to say thank you for being there
Look at helping with local football clubs, scouts, guides or youth projects
Volunteer at your local hospice, dementia group or old people’s home
Give someone a compliment
Make a donation to charity
Write a thank you letter to someone rather than sending a text
If someone does something kind for you, pass it forward and do something kind for someone else – create a ripple of kindness.
and finally remember…
You don’t have to be in a romantic relationship to feel the benefits of producing oxytocin. We can create good quality relationships with our family and friends, our neighbours and the people we work with.
Just smiling and thanking the person who serves you in the supermarket can make you and that person feel better.
Simply being kind, listening, showing sympathy, paying a compliment, lending a helping hand, sharing a funny story all produce the love hormone oxytocin.
How can you spread some kindness today and everyday?