“No act of kindness—no matter how small—is ever wasted.”
February may be the shortest of all the months, but with two separate days dedicated to helping others feel special, it certainly seems like the nicest. Just three days after Valentine’s Day celebrates the beauty of romantic love, Random Acts of Kindness Day comes along on February 17th and encourages charity.
Though the day may seem like an appeal to selflessness and altruism, helping others is usually a mutually beneficial experience. Kindness tends to reward the giver as well as the recipient.
Being kind is good for everybody.
We’ve all heard that being nice to others makes you feel good, but did you realize science backs up that claim? According to researchers at Dartmouth College opens in a new window, simply seeing an act of kindness causes our bodies to produce oxytocin, a hormone that lowers blood pressure and increases optimism. If just observing kindness can improve our heart health and social outlook, imagine what can happen when we get involved!
Okay, I’m in. What do I do?
There are endless ways to be kind, but sometimes the myriad of options makes it hard to decide what to do. While randomness offers a world of freedom, it also leaves room for overthinking. To help you avoid analysis paralysis, we’ve come up with a few ideas for you to consider on Random Acts of Kindness Day:
Look back and pay it forward.
If you’re hitting the drive-thru for coffee or breakfast on the way to work, paying for the order of the car behind you is a great way to start a chain reaction of selflessness and smiles.
Sweeten up the office.
When it comes to the workplace, stumbling across free food in the breakroom is one of life’s simple pleasures. You can boost everyone’s mood with nothing more than some bagels, donuts, cookies, or candy (or fruit, if resolutions are still unbroken).
Put your phone away.
Just for the day, commit to keeping your smartphone out of sight while you’re talking with someone else. The notifications will be there when you’re finished, and the people who got your undivided attention will feel valued.
Smile. Seriously, just smile.
A genuine smile can make you and everyone around you a little happier. But did you know a fake smile can do the same thing? That’s right, as far as your brain is concerned, a smile’s a smile opens in a new window. It releases endorphins either way. So even if you’re not feeling it at first, go ahead and grin. When you start getting return smiles from others, you won’t be faking it for long.
Let the kindness begin.
Now, before any of us try to excuse ourselves from participating with rationalizations like “We should be kind EVERY day, not just once a year,” let’s remember that every perpetual motion needs a little nudge to get it started. Random Acts of Kindness Day 2018 may just be the friendly push we need.