Think of a time where someone did something nice for you that was unexpected, be it someone you know or even a complete stranger. Better yet, think of a time where YOU did something kind for someone and made their day. Those feelings of joy from being on the receiving end of a random act of kindness and being the one who is kind to others is just unmatched and something we need more of in this world, wouldn’t you agree? Being someone like myself who is at times, quite analytical, I really appreciate science and finding out the who, what, when, where, and why about things. When it comes down to the “science of kindness” if you will, it is actually quite fascinating. It turns out that there have been studies about kindness and the effects that it has on mental health. For instance, performing just one act of kindness has been shown to reduce a person’s anxiety, stress, and depression. The body produces hormones that make you and the person you have been kind to feel happier, calmer, and even healthier. Serotonin, the feel-good hormone, endorphins which help to reduce physical pain, and oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, are produced and can help reduce blood pressure, make you feel loved and more energized when you perform acts of kindness for others. Sometimes just seeing a random act of kindness being done in front of you is enough to spark those same feelings and inspire you to act as well! When you think of it that way, what a great way to have a domino effect of kindness and to see how far of a reach it can have.
World Kindness Day was first observed as an international holiday in 1998 as a way to promote the message of kindness. Each year on November 13th, this holiday is observed in countries all over the world including United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Italy, India, The United Kingdom and The United Arab Emirates. The purpose of this holiday is to highlight and emphasize good deeds done for one another in the community and to focus on how powerful positivity and kindness can be when people come together. Currently, this holiday is not officially recognized, however, there is hope that some day it will get the official observance it deserves and be recognized along with other important days such as World Health Day (April 7th) , Human Rights Day (December 10th) , and International Day of Peace (September 21st).
I was really interested in hearing people’s stories about random acts of kindness, so I reached out to friends and family and asked them to share their experiences. Below are just a few of the heartwarming responses I got:
“The last time I was at BJ's (A store similar to Costco) there was a girl in the self-checkout who clearly had no idea that you needed a membership card to shop. She was getting so frustrated because it would not let her move forward and at that time, the person watching the self-checkout was nowhere to be found. I went over to this woman, scanned my membership card for her so she could continue and then explained to her why it wasn't working and how she could apply for a membership card so she could continue to shop there in the future. She was really happy and I was happy to help her.”
“On my way to work which is an hour and 20-minute commute, I ran out of gas so I pulled into a gas station only to realize I also lost my debit card and to make matters worse, I also wasn’t carrying any cash! A nice man and his father-in-law saw me in distress and offered to put $20 in my tank. It was so genuinely kind and I was so grateful for them being there at that very moment when I needed the help.”
“Whenever I go to do an Amazon return at Kohls, they give you a coupon for a percentage off your purchase or Kohls cash to use within a certain amount of time. Rather than using it, I always do a lap around the store to find someone who has a cart or basket already full of items, walk over to them and explain that I have the coupon but do not plan to use it, so rather it go to waste I give it to them. One of the times that I did this, it just so happened to be that woman's birthday too so she was so happy!”
“A few years ago, I attended a Benefit concert for a student who passed away in a car crash. I was in the crowd mingling with some other people in attendance and a guy came up to me and started making small talk. He asked how I knew (the person who’s honor this benefit was in) and then I asked him how he knew him. It turns out that he was actually just a neighbor of the lead guitarist of the band who was performing that night and wanted to support him and support this cause as well. He told me that the guitarist always promised to teach him how to play guitar but due to being on unemployment he hadn’t been able to purchase a guitar in order to take him up on that offer. I used to play guitar and I had a few guitars at home that I wasn’t using anymore due to some nerve damage I had in my hand from a work accident, so I ended up finding one of the nicest ones I had, a modified Stratocaster in great condition and I connected with the guitarist of that band. I ended up going by his house and asking him to give that guitar to his neighbor so that he could finally start learning to play. It was close to Christmas too so that made it feel even more special!”
“I worked at a Dunkin Donuts for a period of time in my life and it was pretty common to see people pay for the car behind them on a pretty regular basis. When people pull up to the window to find out that their order was paid for, they get so happy! I even saw a woman cry because as she explained to me, she was having a “serious case of the Monday’s” and she needed to “just catch a break” as she put it. She decided to pay it forward and pay for the car behind her because she felt like if the person in front of her had that kind of impact on her, she was hoping it could do the same for the person behind her! Long story short, this streak of “paying it forward” lasted for 6 or 7 cars in a row!”
As you can tell, there are so many ways to be kind and even more reasons to do so as often as possible! It doesn’t need to cost money, take up a lot of time, or be burdensome to you in any way to make an impact on someone’s day and your own. Kindness is contagious and each act can inspire another act. We need more kindness in the world so if you feel so inclined to spread some, make sure to do so on Saturday November 13th and every day throughout the year!
For more information about kindness, and some videos that are sure to tug at your heartstrings, please check out the following links: