I have been reading a lot about kindness, gratitude and its connection joy. I have discovered that helping others or doing kind things for others can have a positive effect on not just the person that you are being kind to, but your happiness and well-being.
Studies have shown the just witnessing acts of kindness produces Oxycontin, the ‘love hormone’ which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. Oxycontin also increases our self-esteem and optimism. Kindness stimulates the production of serotonin, the feel-good chemical which helps to heal your wounds, calm you down, and makes you happy! Being kind to others reduces pain, can reduce the stress hormone cortisol by 23%, anxiety and depression. Being altruistic is linked to lowering blood pressure and increases heart health.
In light of this information, I have been keeping a gratitude journal and thinking of small ways that I can be kinder in my day to day life.
Today while buying a coffee at my local cafe, I handed the waitress my loyalty card to be stamped. She handed it back to me smiling and said, “the next coffee is a freebie”. Inspired I handed it back to her and said, “Keep it, use it to pay for the next person’s coffee order”. She was taken aback and smiled and replied, “That is so kind! Okay”.
I collected my coffee from the barista and went back to my office smiling. I was bursting with the excitement and happiness in anticipation of making some one’s day. Literally colours felt brighter, people seemed friendlier, my morning was fantastic.
Later in the day when I saw the waitress, she told me ” I gave your free coffee to a guy who was in after you, he was so surprised and happy. It felt good to give him the free coffee. We were all talking about it.”
THE CHAIN REACTION OF ONE KIND ACT
When I reflected on the morning, I realised that my one act of kindness had a ripple effect that affected more than just me.
Let’s look at who was affected:
When I made the kind gesture my body was flooded with a rush of hormones designed to make me feel joy.
I was experiencing a “helper’s high”. The delicious cocktail of endorphins and hormones like oxytocin. This boosts our sense of connection, love, trust and optimism, which increases our serotonin levels and reduces our cortisol levels. In short being kind makes us happy.
I didn’t just stop with me. I transferred my “helper’s high” to the waitress and the barista who served the free coffee. Whom in turn would have been friendlier to their customers and been more inclined to give excellent customer service. The customers in the cafe would have left happier because of the friendly service and would have passed their joy on. If you are kind it encourages others to be kind too.
The Recipient of the Free Coffee
The recipient of my random act of kindness, would have received benefits far beyond a free cup of coffee. There would have been the euphoria of been given an unexpected surprise. He too would have been hit with a cocktail of feel good hormones and left the cafe with a feeling of joy.
I imagine that he would go on to tell his friends and family about the pleasant surprise that he received that morning. He would have been more likely to be in a great mood and to be friendlier and kinder to others. Those that he would have come in contact with would have been positively infected with his joy and would have passed this on.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNT FROM MY KINDNESS EXPERIMENT?
- Kindness packs a powerful punch. One small act of kindness has far reaching consequences and is felt by many.
- Kindness is addictive. The kinder you are the more you want to be kind.
- Being kind brings you joy. Practising gratitude and kindness makes you happy and attracts good things to you.
- Actions speak louder than words. If I want the world to be a happier, kinder more caring place it starts with me.
Just one question remains, what kind thing will I do today?
Do you want to chat to be inspired by kindness? Join The Kindness Project Facebook group to post about kindness and chat to fellow kindness seekers.