Tomorrow is Random Acts of Kindness Day, and there are a whole host of reasons why every act of kindness is a good choice.
So apparently Cinderella’s mother was on to something when she revealed to her daughter in her last few moments of life “a great secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer”. She made Cinderella promise that she would "always have courage and be kind”, telling her little girl that "kindness has power". Cinderella honoured her promise even in the most difficult of circumstances, and the fable demonstrates the life lesson that when you live your life with the courage to be kind, life will be good to you.... and this isn’t just a fairy tale, it’s science!
For decades, researchers have wondered why humans are driven to be kind to one another. We have survival instincts just like other animals, yet unlike most other creatures we happily invest our time, energy and resources in helping others when there is no obvious benefit for ourselves. In their search to understand what fuels human compassion and altruistic behaviour, they’ve discovered that engaging in acts of kindness provides several benefits that boost our overall well-being and happiness. Being kind to others is the secret to living a fulfilling life, and numerous studies show that kindness improves health and happiness.
“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” – the Dalai Lama
Kindness is proven to raise energy levels, increase feelings of self-worth, and make you feel calmer and happier. Research shows that when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centres light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed—not the giver. This phenomenon is called the “helper’s high". The hormones produced by kindness boost your mood, your immune system and actually increase your lifespan.
Studies show that people can strengthen their 'compassion muscle’ by responding to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help. So, like all behaviours, kindness is learnable, but better yet, it's actually contagious too - the positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to perpetuate the kindness. So one good deed can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!
So why not use tomorrow as a good excuse to take every opportunity to do something kind. Whether this be buying a friend a coffee, complimenting a stranger, helping an elderly person with their shopping, writing a nice comment on Facebook, volunteering at a charity event or simply just being friendlier to work colleagues. Making a difference to people's lives is easier than you think, and through your gestures of kindness you will become healthier and happier; each one changes your world and the world around you.
And while being kind to others, remember to be kind to a very important person — YOU! Cultivate your inner advocate with positive self-talk, give yourself more recognition for your strengths and achievements, believe in and take care of yourself, show yourself compassion with forgiveness and self-acceptance. And part of being kind to yourself is accepting kindness when it's offered to you - accept gestures of kindness more readily from others, accept a compliment with a smile, allow others to help you, and don't feel awkward about it, after all, you're giving them all the lovely benefits of being kind. It's a win-win!
Let me know how this works out for you in the comments box below.