“Kindness costs you nothing.” -Irish Proverb
Darlings, what if I told you there was ONE thing you could do EVERYDAY that would help you feel less worried, lower your blood pressure AND flood your body with calmness? There is!
I recently read a study that said practicing one Random Act of Kindness (RAOK) everyday, reduces anxiety, feelings of depression, and floods your system with the same hormones that make you calmer, healthier and happier. Imagine that, being kind to someone else gives you benefits.
The History of Women and Random Acts of Kindness
As urban lore has it, author Anne Herbert wrote the phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a placemat in 1982. Eleven years later, Herbert published a collection of true stories about acts of kindness, Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty. Her bumper-sticker-worthy phrase has sparked groups of random strangers all over the the world who do nothing but random acts of kindness to other strangers.
Of course, as women, we already know the power of nurturing, the power of feeling connected and it turns out, RAOK benefit us as much – or even more – than the person receiving the gesture. What I didn’t know is that even people who witness RAOK get benefits from seeing someone be kind of someone else. Isn’t that magical? And it has a multiplier effect, because the more kindness people experience, the more people “paid it forward.” Kindness begets kindness! Sometimes in the bustle of our busy lives, it’s hard to remember kindness as we rush around, so I’ve selected a few of my favorites to share with you.
One Good Deed Begets More Good Deeds
A girlfriend of mine told me about an amazing organization called Tikkun Tokens, that does only one thing: Recognizes acts of kindness by supplying wood tokens that witnesses of kindness can “pay it forward” with. She regaled me of individual stories from their website of people sharing how they witnessed a RAOK, and were compelled to give a Tikkun Token to the kindness-giver. Stamped with “You just made the world a better place,” these tokens have traveled the world, gathering powerful stories of how the simple act of giving/receiving of the token powerfully impacted the person’s life.
Leave an inspiring note on someone’s car
How many times have any of us complained about how badly a person parked? Sometimes I imagine that the reason this person parked like this is they were having a very bad day, perhaps they were distracted by bad news, or late to an appointment. I like to lean into that empathy by leaving a kind note. “It’s a beautiful day today and I hope your vehicle transports you to a place that fills your soul with love and connection.” You could take a stack of notecards and a pen and simply walk around the neighborhood/parking garage. Imagine that you’re sending an entire army of people out with a beautiful smile ready to do something nice for someone else, if not today, then tomorrow.
Pay for someone’s food/coffee
This is MY personal favorite act of kindness. It’s as simple as handing the cashier a $10 bill and asking her, “Please use this buy the person behind me a cup of coffee.” I’ve never predicted the sheer joy I’ve received just from buying someone else a simple cup of coffee.
Pay for someone’s bridge toll
In a variety of cities, we drive across bridges and pay tolls. The Golden Gate Bridge is $6 per car when entering San Francisco. While many people use devices that allow them to zip through toll booths, many people don’t and that extra $6 might be paid forward to someone’s cup of coffee.
Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a LONG time – just to say Hello.
When you leave a message, tell him/her how much they mean to you and that you were thinking of them. Just knowing that someone out there is missing you is sometimes all they need to hear to brighten their day.
Pick Up Someone Else’s Dog Poop
I love my dog America and sometimes I see doggie poop in our neighborhood that other pet parents have neglected to pick up. Darlings, I am as disgusted as you when I see this, but I do have a choice. I can pick it up and beautify my neighborhood for myself or others or I can get annoyed. If I pick it up, I immediately know I did my entire neighborhood a favor, and no one even knows I did it, all they know if their daily walk is beautiful.
Leave a Kind Word
Wait staff work incredibly hard for every dollar they make. They run around on their feet all day, they listen to numerous people demand and complain they are rarely complimented (directly) for a job well done. Next time you eat out, leave a generous cash tip and write a note on the receipt, “It was such a pleasure to have you as my server today. I loved your energy, your smile and I hope your boss appreciates you.” It’s impossible she/he will not feel touched. Imagine how delightful your server will be to their next customer! This one has a beautiful ripple effect.
Compliment a Stranger
Next time you’re shopping or walking the dog, compliment someone. Notice something about them and tell them, “Love the shoes,” “Your bag is beautiful” or “I love the sweet smile on your dog’s face.” Compliments are an instant confidence boost and you never know – your compliment could be JUST the thing the person needs to hear.
Hold the Door Open for Someone
One of my favorite small acts of kindness is so simple. When you enter an establishment, look around. Is there a person in a wheelchair coming up behind? Maybe a mom with a child? Hold the door open for them. Taking the extra moment to hold the door and make eye contact can be a quick dose of kindness that lifts a spirit.
Send a Postcard
I love a good postcard! When I open the mailbox and see that little piece of handwritten joy upon a nice image of a faraway place, I burst out with a smile. You don’t have to travel someplace exotic to send a postcard, perhaps buy a box of postcards with an inspirational saying and send them out with loving notes to friends/family.
Leave a treat in the mailbox for your mail carrier
Through rain, heat and snow, our mail carriers deliver our mail everyday. They make it easy for us to pay our bills, send our grandchildren christmas presents and get those new shoes from Nordstrom. Why not put a heartfelt note in your mailbox or a small gift and acknowledge your mail carrier for all the hard work he/she does?
How Does a RAOK work so well?
The magic of a RAOK reduces down to one thing: connection. As women, we are hard-wired to seek connection. We thrive in tight circles of people who honor and support our values, we raise happier children in close communities and we create purpose in our lives when we feel bonded to something. A RAOK takes us out of our head and into the present moment by making us stop and actively connect with a fellow human.
Practice an Act of Kindness everyday and the world will be a much better place. These 10 simple acts are easy to do and can be easily incorporated into your very busy day. I’m excited to hear about your own journey with these acts, so please add your comments below. Perhaps you’d be willing to share your random acts of kindness with one another in MOXIE, our online community.