Shortly before Christmas, my son and I were shopping around Orchard Road when we came upon a kind gentleman who sells tissues in the area. I have known this man for many years and, despite some disabilities, he is always extremely cheerful and grateful. Because of this, I usually try to give a little extra, be it five or ten dollars, depending on what I have on me at the time. On this particular occasion, I looked into my wallet to see I had a $2 and a $50 note. I gave my son the $2 and off he toddled to buy the tissues. Shortly afterwards we were waiting at the pedestrian crossing when I opened my wallet again. Sensing what I was thinking, my son asked if we should give the man $50 as a Christmas present. I said yes and back he went, money in hand. He returned with a smile from ear to ear and said with such depth of feeling “my heart feels SO good right now”. In this moment, he discovered the paradox of giving, namely that the giver often receives just as much, if not more, than the receiver.
It’s not simply about money of course. There are numerous ways people can experience the joy of giving, for example by committing Random Acts of Kindness. Since Friday 17 February is Random Acts of Kindness Day, what better time than to find this out for yourself!
Research shows that committing Random Acts of Kindness, especially when done so with positivity, can boost well-being in both those who give and receive. In 2022, researchers at the University of Austin in Texas in the United States had participants give away hot chocolate in a park. Not only did the levels of happiness of both givers and receivers increase, they were further heightened when the action was carried out with positivity and warmth. So while we may not be able to change the world, a little bit of well-intentioned kindness can go a long way.
I believe most of us can think of at least a few occasions when we’ve been on the receiving end of Random Acts of Kindness. Perhaps someone held open the door when we had our hands full, gave way in traffic or offered some kind words. Additionally, most of us can recall instances when we’ve shown some kindness in return. If you’ve ever helped someone carry something heavy, complimented a stranger, or left a chocolate on a colleague’s desk, you’ll know that there are many ways these small (yet significant) acts can brighten a day.
Taking a few moments to brainstorm ideas can also make a positive difference to your mental health. In case you’re stuck, here are some simple ideas to get you started.
- Pick up some litter
- Leave a kind review
- Smile at a neighbour
- Compliment a stranger
- Donate items to charity
- Pay for someone’s coffee
- Bake some cookies to share
- Wish someone a wonderful day
- Engage with the sales assistant
- Pull out somebody’s chair for them
- Say good morning to the bus driver
- Share your umbrella on a rainy day
- Leave a kind note on someone’s desk
- Contact someone you’ve lost touch with
Finally, don’t forget that Random Acts of Kindness include actions directed at yourself. So make sure you listen the next time your body is telling you to slow down, take a break, contact your therapist, or do whatever it is that you need to show yourself some kindness!
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