There’s a whole body of science (neuroscience, to be exact) that teaches us that WE benefit when we take a moment and act out of kindness toward someone else – even someone we don’t know.
Sure, the recipient of the kind gesture benefits (or you’d hope so) as well, but the point is that the one engaged in acting kindly benefits in a number of ways.
- Your brain gets a kick of “feel-good” chemicals that bathe your brain is a soothing cocktail of messages that help you feel genuine, if momentary, joy.
- You may experience a more lasting “proud of myself” feeling that lingers beyond the chemical high.
- And, at some level, this “feel-good” experience may nudge your nervous system to want to be kind again – and even establish a habit of kindness you adhere to!
Sometimes it is easy to see who needs your help and to do immediately the kind gesture that’s requested – things like the canned-goods drive at work or where you worship – to fill a food pantry that serves your neighborhood.
Sometimes, it is hard to know who needs your help, but you can make one safe assumption – we all need a little kindness. For example, that clerk at the store who’s been checking people out for six hours without a break – she needs you to be kind to her. And that guy at the gas station who comes out in the cold to help you check the air in your tires, he needs your kindness too!
Also consider the person who worked the shift before you (and who maybe pulled a double?) a little kindness there can go a long way. And what about your boss? No, not in the self-serving if I am nice to the boss, I’ll get some reward sort of gesture, but the genuine thing – like opening a door when you see her hands are full or bringing him coffee too, when you fetch a cup for yourself.
Self-care is every conscious action you take that feeds your soul, nourishes your body, nurtures your spirit, or replenishes your relationship with yourself!
It is about getting into the habit of thinking about others – noticing that just like you, they’re human and they have needs!
- That everyone is cold on a below-zero day
- And everyone could use a hand when their hands are full
- And all of us appreciate a kind gesture when we’re headed into a challenging day.
So, if not for the other guy, do it for yourself! Know that training your brain to enjoy the “kindness chemicals” you’ll get when you do a random act of kindness is not a bad thing! It’s okay to enjoy the reward of developing a healthy, habit of generosity. And your kindness doesn’t have to be a “thing” – it could be sharing your smile, opening a door, holding a grocery bag that’s about to slip, or even walking someone to their car.
Take some time to look for ways to be kind this week – I’m confident you’ll be presented with many opportunities! Notice them. Act on them, even if it is in some small, but kind, way. Your nervous system will thank you, even if the other person doesn’t.
We all need a little kindness in our day.
I trust you’ll be the recipient, as well as the giver of such a kindness over the coming days!