The power of kindness

We all know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you do someone a good turn. Whether it’s helping an old lady across the road or helping someone to pick up the shopping they’ve dropped. That’s the power of kindness.

Apparently, according to research, being kind does much more than give you that warm, fuzzy feeling – it actually benefits your health and wellbeing. Indeed, according to the results of a US study of 3,296 people, 95% of those studied reported feeling good when they helped someone, whereas 21% actually felt euphoric.

This is often referred to as the “helpers high”. This is because the brain releases serotonin – the body’s feelgood hormone – when we do something kind for others. This lifts our mood and makes us feel more positive and optimistic. Perhaps being kind could become addictive!

And, what’s more, the great thing about kindness is that it’s catching – if you do a good deed for someone they’re more likely to want to do something good for others. This ripple effect is known as “paying it forward”.

If you would like to find out more about this subject I highly recommend the book Why Kindness is Good for You by David R Hamilton, which features some fascinating research backing up why kindness benefits our health.

Feel like doing something kind for others? Here are some suggestions for how you can perform random acts of kindness. Remember to focus on the good deed itself – it’s important not to expect anything in return.

1 Next time you’re at the supermarket and you need to put a coin in the trolley to retrieve it, leave the coin in for the next person when you return it – they’re bound to be pleasantly surprised!

2 Offer to do some gardening or housework for an elderly neighbour.

3 Resolve to pay a compliment to five people throughout the day. For an extra challenge why not include someone you don’t normally talk to that much or someone you don’t know that well?

4 Leave a copy of a book you really enjoyed on a train or bus for someone to pick up and discover. Who knows, they might do the same after they’ve finished it.

5 Hold the door open for someone and give them a big smile – I bet you’ll make their day!

6 Buy some toiletries – shampoo, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes – and take it to your local homeless shelter.

7 If you see someone whose car has broken down, stop and help them. They might just need a push to get going and they’ll be so grateful!

8 Write a letter to a family member or good friend and tell them how much you love them. It’s so rare to receive a letter nowadays so it’ll be a very pleasant surprise. There’s also something really personal about taking the time to put pen to paper instead of just typing out a quick email or text.

9 Next time you’re getting your daily coffee, why not pay the bill for the person behind you? Imagine the surprise on their face when they are told that their latte is free, thanks to the kindness of a stranger!

10 Next time there is a blood drive in your area, make an appointment to give blood. It won’t take long and you could help to save someone’s life through one simple kind act. You could even make it a regular thing – think how many people you could be helping.

Do you have any stories of random acts of kindness, or ideas for good deeds? I’d love to hear about them!

About the author: Liz Parry is a writer specialising in holistic health and wellbeing, personal development and spirituality.

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