Random Acts of Kindness : why are they so important for our well being

Acts of KindnessAs the new year begins and we get into a “resolutary” frame of mind, we find ourselves being generous, yes far more generous and forgiving, maybe more than we usually are, even with strangers. Research shows that philanthropic activity reaches an all time high in the period between November & January.

It’s something about the holidays winding down (Diwali, Christmas, Eid, Hanukkah…. I’m going to be religion neutral here) that just switches ‘ON’ the goodness within us. We want to be good, we want to be kind. We want to be a BETTER person. And this results in most of doing a few good deeds( Santa needs to know!!) and then we’re done for the year.

But I belong to the clan of do- gooders who believes that its not the big things(a.k.a the huge donations to charities) but the smaller stuff( random acts of kindness) that keeps our hearts healthy and keeps a permanent smile on our face.

If you are a big believer in Karma( what goes around comes around…) then you would be on the same page as me! And kindness has its own rewards.

Be Kind, Stay Healthy

According to researchers at Cigna, acts of kindness affects the brain in a way that one feels a heightened sense of well being and euphoria. Both the giver and the recipient feel happier. Physically, kind acts even help induce feelings of relaxation and calmness and may even reduce high blood pressure as well as increase energy levels. According to Dr. David R Hamilton, kindness not only makes us happier, but it also keeps our heart healthy and slows down aging.

So smile more, hold doors for people, help someone struggling with their bags at the airport, get up and offer a seat in a bus/train to someone who looks like they need it more, pay the toll for the car behind you, offer tea to the cabbie waiting in the bitter cold to drive you to the airport on a winter morning, help walk someone’s dog…. Be kind on an impulse, don’t plan it!! Its guaranteed to bring a smile to two people’s faces!

Sunshine is contagious

Research shows that goodness spurs goodness. Your tiny act of compassion has far reaching consequences and unknowingly you are starting a chain of kindness.

Scientists call this behavioral mimicry. If someone around us is generous, benevolent, forgiving or kind, it spurs us to behave in the same manner.

It’s a great social experiment to start in your workplace. Help a colleague, give genuine praise for work well done, acknowledge the learnings from failure, compliment your colleagues. The positivity will create a whirlwind of productivity creating outstanding results. ( I’ve been there and done that, so I speak from experience). A great way to kick start yourself from kindness inertia and put ideas into action in the workplace is to start a random acts of kindness week at work. Getting the organization to experience the effects of kindness first hand will build the momentum to sustain the efforts over a longer period of time.

Make it a habit and not a forced activity

Extensive research has shown that more empowered people feel, the greater their propensity to show kindness to others. So the best way to introduce sustained kindness into the organisation is by creating a very empowered organisation culture, where people happily forego the “bystander effect” and constantly volunteer to help colleagues, teams and projects that are in “crisis mode”.

This slowly percolates the idea that by helping others, I am helping “my” company and in the long run, myself. Once the idea of collective growth takes root, it slowly weeds out negative competition, dog-eat-dog mentality and encourages healthy debate, appreciation of differences and tolerance which is more sustainable.

I would encourage you not to wait a second longer, get out there and make kindness a way of life, you have more to gain than you imagined.

Top Ideas for Random Acts Of Kindness :

  1. Smile more especially at strangers, people not expecting it
  2. Thank people, if possible in writing( it stays with them forever)
  3. Be the sunshine in the life of someone having a bad day – friend. colleague, family…. Your little words of encouragement and belief can change someone’s life.

More on this in blogs to follow, real life stories, experiences…

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