On a scale of 1 to 10 if 10 is doing something every week for another, how are you doing? An act once a week so far in 2015 would be 26 acts of kindness = score of 10, perhaps. Three times a month might get you an 8 or 9. Twice a month could be a generous 6 or 7. Once a month – that would mean you did six nice things for others – we could give you a 5.
Perhaps this is too liberal? Is what you are doing for others substantial? How noble are you being? If you have done 50 acts of kindness this year, I will bountifully give you a 10!!! If you have sent someone to private school or paid for a year of their college, I’ll give you a magnanimous 10!
If you have followed Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D.’s research of three acts of kindness a day, done once per week, not only do you get a 10 from me, but a lot of happiness and well-being from doing it. What number on our scale are you giving yourself about now? Most of my clients in coaching, couples counseling and individual psychotherapy periodically do random acts of kindness as a homework assignment to increase their happiness, love and life satisfaction.
Benefits of Random Acts of Kindness
“People who engage in kind acts become happier over time,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. “When you are kind to others, you feel good as a person — more moral, optimistic, and positive,” she says. Lyubomirsky has studied happiness for over 20 years. Her research, presented at a recent meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in New Orleans, found that performing other positive acts once a week led to the most happiness.
Random acts of kindness are a trendy topic in science and psychology today. Study after study has proven that compassionate giving and goodwill are not only great for the recipient, but the giver as well. Here are some interesting facts:
- Giving not only makes you feel good, it also makes you stronger.
- We feel happier when we perform acts of kindness.
- People who are kind and compassionate are usually the most successful.
- We increase children’s feelings of happiness and well-being, reduce bullying, and improve their friendships by teaching them to be givers of kindness.
- Random acts of kindness don’t just benefit the ones you gift, but also help your own mental health.
- Acts of kindness reduce anxiety.
- When you are grateful and practicing random acts of kindness… the result is inner calm, clarity of thinking and a heart full of love.
- Those who are altruistic tend to have less probability of contracting Alzheimer’s disease.
- Physiological benefits of kindness include:
o Strengthened immune system
o Improved Cognitive Performance
o Increase in Energy
o Lower Heart Rate
o Balanced cortisol levels which result in less internal stress
o More likely to live a longer and more satisfied life
o Laughter and inner joy resulting in decreased stress hormones; lower blood pressure; diminished pain.
- When people benefit from kindness they “pay it forward” by helping others who were not originally involved, and this creates a cascade of cooperation that influences dozens more in a social network.
- The flow of good and desirable properties like ideas, love and kindness is required for human social networks to endure, and, in turn, networks are required for such properties to spread.
- Helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a ‘helper’s high,’ and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking.
- Those who spend money on others report much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves.
- The most powerful way to increase your short-term feelings of happiness is to perform random acts of kindness to others.
- Five random acts of kindness in a week will increase your happiness for up to three months.*
A Random Act of Kindness Story
I’m sharing this information with you today because I sat down to write about friendship, which led to acts of kindness, which led to looking up the research, which led to this article…
I have a friend who is sick in bed, can’t get rid of an infection and lives alone. Using a little empathy to think of what it must be like for him, I feel compassion and concern for how he is getting food, taking care of his dog, getting to the doctor, etc.
Yesterday I folded his laundry, fed the dog, put clean sheets on his bed, and tucked him into bed to stop the chills. I filled up his special glass of orange soda and went to the market to get him some allergy pills.
Before I left his place, I searched his refrigerator and saw he had lots of food, soup, salad, chicken, left overs, rice, vegetables, etc. He was in great shape if he made it to the kitchen.
Today I’m taking him lunch and tomorrow taking the dog to the groomers – he really needs to lose his gray and be sparkling white again (the dog…) I will also make sure he has help to move the furniture he plans to move this weekend.
Being a good friend makes me know Stephen feels cared for and not so alone. It may even help him heal a little faster. It would have been easy to just let him take care of himself (he is really good at it). (Oh, he fixed his wheelchair before I got there yesterday!) But I just couldn’t go home from the office and not stop by.
Helping him also made me feel good about myself. I certainly don’t have to add a couple extra hours into my already busy days. But I would sure like it if someone showed me caring if I was confined to bed with a raging fever and chills.
How about you? Do you have any of your own stories about kindness? Just make sure you are doing this for someone else and not increasing your own narcissism by trying to “up” your own happiness and karma.
What Acts of Kindness Have You Done in June?
What have you done for someone else so far in June? Taken someone to a play? Invited a friend for drinks? Cooked dinner for a girlfriend or two? Cared for someone else’s pet while they went on vacation? Called your 95 year old aunt? Told your brother he needs to call his mother? Sent a sympathy card? Reached out to an old friend? Suggested your latest favorite book to someone? Delivered flowers to anyone special? Weeded your neighbor’s garden? Shared your homegrown tomatoes with the older couple down the street? Taken a bottle of wine to the neighbor who returned your run- away dogs? Small acts of kindness make the world a happier place.
I encourage you to consider doing three things this week that will make someone else happier and create lots of good feelings for you. Perhaps you’ll even make your happiness contagious and make your part of the world a little brighter. They did it in Australia, making them the kindest country in the world. If Australia can do it, why not you and your town?
Start a Culture of Kindness
Consider doing your acts of kindness, make it part of your thinking and life to be altruistic, and assist your country raise up like Australia.
Start a culture of kindness – in your family, neighborhood, school (there are many, by the way), work (lots here, too), town (here, too) and countries.
Each year, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) publishes a World Giving Index, which attempts to track certain types of giving behavior in 146 countries across the globe.
The data is extracted from an annual poll conducted by research firm Gallup and ranks countries according to the proportion of people who have volunteered, helped strangers at random, or donated money to charity in a typical month.
In first position last year was Australia, where a third of the population volunteers each month and two-thirds claim to have helped a stranger and donated money to charity.
Lisa Grinham, from CAF’s Australian branch, says that the rise is due to the flooding that hit Queensland and Victoria the year before, pointing out that figures tend to rise in times of national hardship.
*Some research studies listed at:
Start with your three acts of kindness and let me know what happened! Call 702-242- 4222 or email me.