Kindness is contagious. One simple act of kindheartedness starts with one. Just that one gesture encourages another to follow and then so on and so on. Before you know all those around you are being kind and courteous to each other. What a glorious sight to envision. And it all started with just one.
I saw firsthand the evidence of an act of kindness by a good friend who bought two round-trip, un-named, and un-dated airline tickets to India. He became friendly with the owners of the dry cleaners in his building and over time learned their son moved back to India. They hadn’t seen him in 2 years or so and didn’t have the money to make the expensive trip from New York.
Several weeks passed and a Fed-ex package arrived on their doorstep. They were overjoyed with the surprise and thoughtfulness of his gift. Even though my friend is no longer alive, his memory remains as one of the most loving and caring men I have known.
From that one tremendous act of kindness, the parents were able to rejoice with their son in India and pass along the good fortune. We all can’t afford such a luxurious gift. It can be as simple as a smile. A Swedish research study concluded that it is very difficult to frown when someone is smiling at you. With a sincere smile the brain releases dopamine the same neurotransmitter that helps alleviate depression, Parkinson’s Disease, and Attention Deficit Disorder. Thus smiling contributes to internal peace and well-being. Bringing a smile to another in return makes you smile.
For tweens, creating random acts of kindness benefits the giver by gaining friends, increasing feelings of happiness and well-being, and popularity among peers, higher academic achievement, and more positive behavior and less bullying.
After covering the Newton, Conn., tragedy NBC News’ Ann Curry tweeted, ‘commit to doing one act of kindness for every child killed?’ People responded around the country and increased Curry’s request to 26 acts of kindness for every child and adult killed at the school. People were inspired to keep a tally of generosity on Facebook and encouraged others to follow.
From children at school to adults’ personal well-being, the benefits of random acts of kindness are astounding.
• Reduce bullying by teaching children to be givers of kindness
• Increase feelings of happiness and well-being
• Improve friendships
• Gives meaning and purpose to life
• Greater connection
• It just feels good
Like a spiral affect, one small act encourages another and then another. The power of one act of kindness inspires, nurtures, gives hope, confidence, and motivates others to take a similar course of action. The idea of random of kindness is so powerful that a foundation was created and dedicated to providing resources and tools that encourage acts of kindness. Check out http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/
Kristin Layous, S. Katherine Nelson, Eva Oberle, Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl, Sonja Lyubomirsky. Kindness Counts: Prompting Prosocial Behavior in Preadolescents Boosts Peer Acceptance and Well-Being. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e51380 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051380