Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 978

Random Acts of Kindness

Every day we have the chance to do something kind. It can be as small as picking up a dropped book or as big as donating an organ. Kindness comes in many different forms and we have a gazillion opportunities to include it in our day. The thing about kindness is that it doesn't have to be planned, it can be random.

This is truly a topic close to my heart.  It's something I try to live by and teach my children.  As you know it's also the basis for my first book, "My Happy Gift".

I've always liked the idea of being kind for kindness sake, but it wasn't until I attended a conference with Harvard University Lecturer Shawn Achor on the psychology of happiness that I became aware of the proven scientific evidence that  random acts of kindness actually switch on certain chemicals in the brain (in both the giver and the receiver) for a more positive approach to life.

So what is a random act of kindness?

A random act of kindness is something that either isn't planned or it's for a complete stranger. It can be a fly by the seat of your pants type of deal where you seize the opportunity right then and there without putting too much thought into it.  Or it can be something you do for someone you have never met.

There are plenty of opportunities for planned kindness such as supporting a charity, visiting your sick grandmother, organising a garage sale and donating all the money to flood relief and doing volunteer work at the school.  This type of contribution is truly wonderful and should be valued and treasured. But how many of us take the opportunity to do something completely random and unplanned for someone else in our busy day?

Random acts of kindness can help refocus the lense in which people view the world so that they experience joy and success, rather than depression and struggle. That combined with the simple act of smiling increases dopamine levels for greater intelligence, success and happiness. Doing something positive for someone increases the happy chemicals in the giver which turns on the positive responses in the brain for greater daily experiences. And the receiver feels pretty damn good too and is more likely to then want to pay it forward.

Some random acts of kindness that come to mind include:

  • Seeing a bag of rubbish on the side of the road, pulling over and disposing of it properly
  • Paying for someone else's meal in a restaurant without them knowing who it was
  • Hearing about a sick friend so quickly calling into the shops to buy an assortment of teas, sweets and a magazine and dropping them over
  • Putting money in an expired parking metre for a stranger
  • Giving your seat to someone else on the bus so they don't have to stand
  • Helping an old lady cross the road
  • Letting another car into your lane
  • Letting others in front of you at the supermarket if you have a trolley load and they only have a handful of things
  • Offering to take a photo for a random family so that all members are in the picture
  • Giving your coat to a homeless person as they sleep on the side walk

There are plenty of ways we can contribute to our communities and lots of opportunity to be random.  Just Google "random acts of kindness" and see for your self. And while it feels awkward and unkind to "gloat" about it, don't feel embarrassed to share your experiences with us here. Because that after all motivates and inspires others to do likewise.

Who's with me?  Want to plan to be random?  

Share your experiences with me today ...

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