Updated: Sep 22
Schools are opening up. So are some workplaces. The election is shifting into high gear. Many of us are operating from a position of decreased emotional resources, yet the stress-o-meter keeps ticking up.
Kindness to the rescue!
Seriously, kindness is a coping skill. Studies show acts of kindness are positively correlated with happiness, feel-good body chemicals (like dopamine, seratonin and oxytocin) and even longevity.
"When we’re kind, a part of the reward system called the nucleus accumbens activates—our brain responds the same way it would if we ate a piece of chocolate cake. In addition, when we see the response of the recipient of our kindness—when the person thanks us or smiles back—our brain releases oxytocin, the feel-good bonding hormone. This oxytocin boost makes the pleasure of the experience more lasting. It feels so good that the brain craves more. “It’s an upward spiral—your brain learns it’s rewarding, so it motivates you to do it again.”
We could all use a big dose of kindness. So be kind. To yourself. To people who piss you off. To people you love. We all want to feel well.
Where to start? Here are 20 ways you can bask in, share and enjoy kindness.
Give a compliment to a stranger you pass. Give another one to someone you know.
Let someone cut in front of you in line.
Think of someone who has helped you and send them a thank you note, email or text.
Offer to do a specific chore or errand for someone you know who is struggling.
Call a friend and ask how they’re doing. Listen wholeheartedly to what they have to say.
Say “I love you” to those you love.
Volunteer for an organization you care about.
Make time to care for yourself. Take a bath, watch a favorite TV show, eat a nutritious meal, binge on funny cat videos or get some physical activity. Do it with intention and appreciation that you deserve to feel good.
Do a loving-kindness meditation. What you practice grows stronger, and loving-kindness meditation is a tool that can bring more kindness to our communities, and to ourselves.
Stop to assist someone who looks lost.
Take a nap if you’re tired. Being rested facilitates the physical and emotional energy to be present for and support others.
Smile and make eye contact. Even with a mask on. Your positive countenance shines through.
Ask a senior citizen about their past.
Make a donation to charity.
Write a positive online review for a local business or a product you love.
Slow down so someone can merge in front of you in traffic.
Search “random acts of kindness” on the Internet. There a bajillion ideas if none of these are quite the right fit for you.