The concept of random acts of kindness centres on the idea that someone would behave kindly to a stranger with no expectation of a reward or a reciprocal act. Simple acts like letting someone cut in front of you in a traffic jam, holding the elevator door for someone running for it, or greeting and complimenting the staff of a restaurant could make a huge difference in someone’s day.
In addition to being meaningful to the recipients, these random acts of kindness can also provide important benefits to those who carry them out as well.
A simple act of kindness can go a long way to improving your emotional wellbeing. A study conducted in 2006 by researcher Keiko Otake and his colleagues found that kind people experience more happiness and have happier memories. This study also revealed that a person’s sense of happiness can be increased by the simple act of counting the number of their own acts of kindness. Counting their own acts of kindness also led happy people to become more kind and grateful.
Giving back to society is not a purely altruistic concept—we feel better by giving or being kind, therefore the act benefits both parties.
Kindness promotes gratitude, empathy, and compassion that can help you nourish your social ties and get a sense of interconnectedness with others.
According to Rachel Slick, a behavioural health clinician at UCHealth, a random act of kindness towards another person can increase oxytocin levels in our bodies. Oxytocin, which is often called the ‘love hormone’ or the ‘cuddle hormone’, plays a major role in enabling social bonding and also making you feel connected with others. Therefore, your kind actions can aid you in strengthening your sense of belonging and overcoming loneliness.
A study published in the Integrative Psychological and Behavioural Science Journal found that people who practised a kindness mindset saw 23% lower cortisol levels than an average person. Cortisol is the main stress hormone of the human body, so having low cortisol levels results in reducing the stress and anxiety that you might feel.
Hoorie Siddique, a clinical psychologist, neuropsychologist, and the owner of Embolden Psychology, said that kindness is now sometimes used as a part of treatment for depression and anxiety. He further explained that for many youngsters, he always recommends volunteering and community service as a part of their treatment plan because practising kindness can help decrease depression and anxiety levels.
Part of depression and anxiety are feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Practising random acts of kindness makes people feel helpful, optimistic, efficacious, and boosts self-esteem.
There you have it! Being kind and helpful to those around you can help you improve your emotional and mental well-being, all while making the world a better place for everyone. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Doing a small act of kindness helps brighten someone’s day – and can sometimes even change their life.
If you liked this article, check out our guide on making each day a happy one.
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