Did you ever see a person in the car next to you on the road and wonder where they are headed? What is their life like? What are their joys and sufferings? There are a lot of people out there who could benefit from a kind word or deed. The concept of “random acts of kindness” is not new. The quote “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” originated in 1982 when Anne Herbert wrote it on a placemat in a California restaurant. But the act of being kind to others has been present in every culture since the beginning of recorded history. Even the smallest good deed can make someone’s day and restore their faith in mankind when they have suffered disappointments and failures from others.
What can I do? I’m just one person, you may say. There are dozens of opportunities to bring out a smile in even the most depressed person. You may find that brightening someone’s day actually brightens your own as well; lifting symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other commonly suffered mood disorders. Berkeley University published results of several studies showing that kindness can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, increase life expectancy and increase endorphin production, all of which improve our physical and emotional health.
Try these small acts of kindness for a start:
- Send a real letter in the mail. In this age of technology, a hand-written note in the mailbox is a thoughtful reminder that you care.
- Pay an unexpected compliment. Find something positive to point out in everyone you meet.
- Listen with eye contact. Give someone your undivided attention with no time constraint.
- Talk to people in general. Ask a cashier how their day is going and tell them you hope their shift is a good one, or empathize with someone in a waiting room.
- Help someone find answers. If a friend is diagnosed with PTSD, print off some helpful information from the web.
- Use the power of post-its. Leave post-it notes randomly and often for friends, family and co-workers with a well wish or happy thought.
- For a greater time commitment to “not so random” acts of kindness, join a volunteer group and visit seniors in a nursing home, deliver meals on wheels to shut-ins, or bring necessities to the homeless.
Even just a smile goes a long way!