Written by Lysn psychologist, Gabrielle McCorry.
We all know the feeling that random acts of kindness can have on our emotions, warming our hearts and giving us a renewed faith in humanity. Perhaps a stranger paid for your coffee, a colleague sent you flowers, or a passerby complimented your outfit—all these random acts of kindness matter to your wellbeing.
In fact, studies have proven that kindness boosts our physical health and helps us to maintain a positive outlook on life. Kindness is often undervalued, but it actually promotes gratitude, empathy, compassion and leads to a sense of interconnectedness with other humans. An act of kindness creates a moment of connection, allowing another human feel cared for and often creating a ripple effect. Kindness breeds kindness, encouraging others to do the same or inspiring them to pay it forward.
On a scientific level, being kind to others can make us genuinely happy in a number of different ways. Being kind actually activates an area of the brain called the Striatum, which responds to things we find rewarding and produces a warm glow feeling in us. So it’s not just that kindness can come back around, or that a smile can be contagious, it is actually scientifically proven to make us feel good. What’s more, research has also shown that spending extra money on other people is more powerful in increasing happiness compared to when spending money on yourself. So practice random acts of kindness more often, no matter how small!
But what actually constitutes as being kind and how can we practice this?
Smiling is an act of kindness that can actually make you smile as well. A few theories suggest that seeing someone else smile can automatically activates the same areas of the brain as if we experienced that emotion for ourselves. So be mindful that emotions can be contagious and try to emit the kinder emotions when dealing with others!
Small connections with other humans has been proven to improve our mood, so try to develop social connections whenever you can, even if it’s just buying a stranger or colleague coffee. You’ll be guaranteed to improve your mood with this connection and might get a few smiles out of that person, so it’s a win, win.
This time of year is a great time to be generous and that doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money. Thoughtfulness or time is considered an act of generosity too, so if you don’t have cash to burn on gifts, send a Christmas card instead or offer someone your time.
How often do we feel appreciation towards another and yet we don’t actually tell them how we feel? Try to show a little act of kindness by verbalizing how much you appreciate another person. This doesn’t have to be a loved one, it could be your local barista who makes you coffee every morning . Say thank you for their service and let them know that they put a smile on your face everyday.
Expressing gratitude can do wonders for our souls, especially if you make it a daily habit. Saying thanks to the universe of even to a complete stranger makes you feel connected and aware of the abundance in your life.
When someone does something kind to you, pay it forward. If someone buys you a gift, you don’t have to buy them a gift back, instead consider gifting another person. It’s the opposite of payback, instead responding to a person’s kindness to oneself by being kind to someone else.