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What the World Needs Now: Acts of Kindness

Oh man! I’ve had that song “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love” stuck in my head. All. Weekend. I’m not sure why. It just popped in my head and has been on repeat since. It’s all I can think about… Plus, a few acts of kindness.

It’s certainly timely, though.

Right now, life feels heavy, and I find myself wanting to make it lighter, in some meaningful way.

So today, inspired by that little tune, I want to focus on a simple, concretely actionable thing you can do to make a real difference.

Do an act of kindness.

It sounds so simple, right? Maybe even silly, but it’s not. There are very real benefits to doing acts of kindness, benefits for you and for others.

Benefits of Kindness

Have you been feeling worn down, stressed, sad, angry, anxious, numb (or all of the above) lately? Doing a kindness for someone else is one of the single most reliable ways to boost your mood. 

It’s more than just a temporary bump in mood, though. Consistently doing random acts of kindness (even over a short period of time) can:

Increase:                                          

+ happiness

+ life satisfaction

+ self-worth and self-esteem

+ sense of calm

Decrease:

– depression

– anxiety

– stress

Don’t those sound like things we could probably all use right now? 

The benefits don’t end there, though. Doing acts of kindness affects your brain and body, too. From activating reward centers in your brain and releasing feel good hormones to reducing blood pressure and pain, kindness is linked to well-being, health, and longevity (Yes, living longer!). It’s like your body’s natural happy pill. Who knew kindness could be the key to optimal physical health? 

Here’s the real beauty in showing kindnesses, though: there are ripple effects.

Not only do you get a dose of mind-body goodness, but others reap similar benefits as well. Giving a kindness today results in a reduction of stress levels for not only you but those around you. 

Benefits for Others

Witnessing an act of kindness produces similar positive physical, emotional, and mental changes as actually doing the kindness. Think about that. The recipient of your act of kindness – as well as any bystanders – will be positively impacted, beyond whatever the act itself does. That’s a good return on (behavioral) investment!

Think about how your family members will benefit from your practice of kindness or even the group of people that will benefit all because of this ripple effect.

Some kindness ideas could be:

  • leaving a positive message on a sticky note
  • volunteering at a homeless shelter
  • putting coins in an empty parking meter
  • regifting a gift card
  • checking on an old friend on social media
  • writing an encouraging note to a loved one or just spend time with them
  • letting a busy person cut in line at the grocery store
  • making a care package for a retirement home
  • hold the door for a stranger
  • let someone merge in front of you
  • pick up trash when you see it
  • bring lemonade to your mail carrier on a hot day

All of these result in a contagious spread of happiness.  The power of kindness is immense! 

Moreover, kindness is contagious. People who witness a kindness are more likely to pay it forward by doing a kindness themselves. See what I mean about ripple effects?

Finally, think about the unspoken messages you’re giving by doing a kindness. Whether it’s for someone you love or a complete stranger, you’re saying “You matter” and “I care.” Those are powerful messages, ones that we need to remind ourselves of and ones that need to be heard, now more than ever.

So, go! Do kind things.

Need more ideas? Check out our ASCEND program! 

“When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.”
 – Harold Kushner