A random act of kindness is a kind gesture offered without solicitation to someone who has a need. National Random Acts of Kindness week this year falls between February 11th and 17th. Not that kindness should ever be confined to one week, but this week is an opportunity to do a deeper dive into the benefits of acts of kindness, be creative about ways to spread kindness, and start a pattern of engaging in random acts of kindness throughout the year. Random acts of kindness, or “RAKs” for all of you cool kids out there, are one of the few social interactions that create a reinforcing cycle of positivity on the one offering kindness, the one receiving kindness, and anyone observing that kindness.
One of my favorite quotes, or paraphrases of a quote (since there is large disagreement as to who should get the credit), is something to the effect of, “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle of which you know nothing about.” All of us are engaged in struggles, some small and some very large, and due to these struggles, we can easily feel alone. When another person sees us, recognizes a need, and acts in kindness, it can be the difference between isolation/despair and connection/hope.
Random Acts of Kindness benefit the giver of kindness in many ways. Research suggests that expressing kindness:
- Increases – oxytocin (aka the love hormone), serotonin, energy, pleasure, happiness, lifespan, immune system, and cognitive performance.
- Decreases – Pain, stress, depression, anxiety, and blood pressure.
In addition to the personal benefits of kindness, kindness also positively affects the general population as it is teachable and contagious.
So here are some pro tips on increasing your habit of random kindness:
- Pay attention to those around you in your daily life
- Be on the look out to help those who can do nothing for you in return
- Commit to intentionally expressing kindness toward one new person every single day
- Pay attention to how you feel the more you express unconditional kindness
- Encourage others to do the same
Kindness is one of those commodities that we all have in unlimited supply. It can never be taken from us. It is an expression of our love for others and our power to influence the world around us. So, be kind and carry on.
Shawn Healy, PhD