“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
~ Maya Angelou
With everything that’s going on in the world right now it can be difficult to know what to say or do. For me, words haven’t been easy to formulate, but honestly that’s probably a good thing. Maybe sometimes silence is best so we can listen and learn from those in the know. One thing we can do though is to simply be more kind.
Even the smallest of kind acts can help a person feel better, or ease a difficult situation. Kindness is free to give and makes you and the recipient feel good, so it’s a no-brainer in my mind.
Share in the comments your favourite ways to spread kindness then watch the video below (or read the transcript that follows) to learn why kindness is good for your health!
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of upheaval in the world right now; the Black Lives Matter protests and the tragedies that fuelled them, the pandemic, the economy, unemployment, political craziness … you name it.
I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with what to say about it all, and truthfully, right now I think it’s more important to listen and learn from those in the know, rather than add to the noise.
There is one idea I want to share though. It’s something we can each do every day that’s based on science and common sense, that doesn’t have to cost a cent and will have a positive ripple effect to those around us.
If you’re feeling a little sad or lost because of all that is happening, and wondering how you can make a difference, a first step forward is to simply be more kind.
There are all sorts of moral reasons for kindness; it’s the right way to engage with others, it’s better than cruelty, it brings people together…and, it just feels good to be kind.
Well, there are a bunch of science-backed reasons why. Kindness we give, kindness we get and kindness we simply witness, all cause the body to release hormones that contribute to your mood, overall wellbeing, and a whole host of other benefits I’ll share with you now.
Since helping others is beneficial to human survival, evolution has wired us to do so. When we do good, even in small ways, it activates the part of your brain that makes you feel pleasure. Your brain releases dopamine, your serotonin levels increase, and oxytocin is produced. These three “happy hormones” are your reward for doing good, and will hopefully motivate you to keep at kindness.
And when you do, you gain the added reward of improved physical and mental health. Who doesn’t need that right now?
The production of Oxytocin causes heart rate to decrease and improves overall health. It also helps improve self-esteem and optimism, which is particularly valuable when anxiety is high.
And kindness increases energy. About ½ of participants in one study reported feeling stronger and more energetic after helping others. Many reported feeling calmer and less depressed with increased feelings of self worth.
All of these benefits will also improve your overall focus, creativity, and effectiveness, so really, helping others helps you!
I think you’d agree that there’s a lot of good wrapped up in … being good.
Here are a few reminders that might help you embrace your own kindness campaign:
- Start with yourself. It’s hard to give, give, give if your vessel is empty. Prioritize your health through sleep, movement and good nutrition. Be kind to yourself by taking breaks when stress is high or asking for help when you need it. Your capacity for sharing kindness will increase the more you take care of yourself.
- Meet negativity with compassion. So many people are fighting personal battles we know nothing about that have nothing to do with us, and yet, when their negativity impacts us we take it personally. We may feel compelled to push back, but instead, why not cut them some slack? Sometimes kindness means saying nothing, or offering support, or simply offering to buy them a coffee. You may not have control over how other people act, but you have control over how you do.
- Start small. If acts of kindness don’t come naturally to you, practice. Do one small kind thing every day for someone. Keep it simple: send a ‘thinking of you text’, hold the door for someone, smile and make eye contact with people, mow your neighbours lawn while you’re doing your own… then pay attention to how you feel.
With research to back it up, it’s clear that doing good for others can also do good for you. It’s a habit you can strengthen anywhere, at any time, at little or no cost, so really, if it’s kindness you choose, you’ve got nothing to lose.
I’d love to hear your favourite small acts of kindness. Share them in the comments below, and then keep at them so you can continue to benefit from the biochemical boost you gain from kind acts. And, for a great resource on kindness check out this website.
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Until next time, I’m Michelle Cederberg reminding you we’ve got one chance to make an impact in this life. I say Dare to Live It Big and dare to be more kind.
Hey, I’m presenting online these days, and it’s not only fun, it’s pretty darn effective. If your organization needs a break from the work-from-home routine to learn how to boost resilience, work-life balance and productivity, reach out to me to chat about my engaging online sessions!