Can you remember the last time you were having a bad day and someone did something kind for you? I’m guessing it made you feel incredible, right? It probably lifted your spirit, encouraged you through the hard time, and motivated you to return the favor to someone else who needed it.
While we know how great we feel when someone does something nice for us, did you know you may experience an even more positive effect from doing something nice for others? There was a study done at the University of the South that showed that participants who did something nice for others were more likely to feel happy and have an improved mood than participants who did something nice for themselves. This means that when you are having a hard day, instead of treating yourself to something like food or a new outfit, you will get a more positive benefit from treating someone else to something. Why? Performing acts of kindness can activate the release of dopamine, aka our “feel-good” hormone, which leads to feelings of happiness and joy, and can buffer negative feelings from stress or anxiety. Being kind and doing something nice may be able to reduce stress and improve mood, self-esteem, and happiness. If you continue doing nice things consistently, these effects will lead to daily positive emotion and better overall mental health.
In addition to the benefit of dopamine release, being kind can also shift our perspective and lead to a kinder world. When we help those in need, we can activate gratitude for the resources we have, the situations we’re in, and the support we have around us. When someone receives a kind act from us, they experience happiness and are more likely to do something kind for someone they see in need, pushing the kindness further along. Imagine what our world would look like if we all chose to do something kind to ten people, then they each did something for ten people, who each were kind to ten more people, and so forth. Everyone would be much happier, less stressed, and overall healthier.
We don’t think this is just a coincidence. We believe it’s part of a bigger Design for us to love one another as we love ourselves.
Before you get started with your acts of kindness, here are a few things to consider:
● Be authentic. Choose to do something that you love or something you’re good at. This will increase your self-esteem and add value to what you are doing. This also helps you remain genuine in what you do, instead of trying to mimic what someone else is doing. Kindness is never a competition.
● Check in with your motivation. Stay motivated to help others, instead of only thinking about what you get in return. Yes, the benefits are incredible, but bringing joy to someone’s day is even more incredible.
● Be intentional. Be alert and look for those who need your kindness each day. You can set out to give away x number of $100 bills, but you can also have one in your wallet waiting for that one person you feel could use it most.
● Don’t forget the small things. Don’t get so wrapped up in planning extravagant acts of kindness that you forget the simple, everyday kind acts like opening the door for the stranger, giving up your seat for an elderly person or pregnant woman, or smiling to someone on the street can lift someone’s day.
Now that you are motivated and ready to spread your kindness like wildfire, here are some ideas to get you started:
● Write an encouraging letter or send flowers to a friend having a hard time.
● Call a family member, listen to how they are doing, and remind them how much you love them.
● Offer to babysit for friends who could use a date night, or for a single parent to go out with their friends.
● Cook or buy a meal for someone.
● Bring your co-worker their favorite coffee or tea, or better yet, a delicious NingXia Red.
● Take someone who needs new clothes shopping.
● Pay a bill for someone struggling financially.
● Fill a jar of encouraging words or scriptures for a friend to lift their spirits every day.
● Give DIY bath salts to a friend who could use an at-home spa night: mix 1 cup epsom salts + ¼ cup baking soda + 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil + 10 drops Bergamot Essential Oil in a small jar
● Gift an essential oil blend to someone in need of peace, joy, and support. Try one of these: Hope, Grounding, Peace & Calming, Stress Away, and Joy.
How are you sharing kindness this month?
Ansell E, Laws H, Raposa E. Prosocial Behavior Mitigates the Negative Effects of Stress in Everyday Life. Clinical Psychological Science. 2015.
Nelson KS, Layous K, Cole SW et al. Do Unto Others or Treat Yourself? The Effects of Prosocial and Self-Focused Behavior on Psychological Flourishing. Emotion. 2016.