Small changes can have big effects. When I was in graduate school we learned that it is through tiny changes that people are able to make bigger and more positive shifts in their lives.
Research has shown that individuals who engage in even small acts of kindness toward others increase their own happiness. In a study by Sonja Lyubomirsky that is cited in Sean Achor’s work, small acts of kindness such as sending a positive email increase the givers happiness significantly. Additionally, Sean Achor’s work purports that kindness towards others and subsequent happiness has a ripple effect. When we are kind to others, those others are kind to others and so on and so on. We have all heard those news stories of long strings of people in fast food windows who pay for the cars behind them because others have paid for them. I still remember working as a young sales clerk at a small store when I was very pregnant with my first child at a time when money was in short supply. A stranger left 50 dollars at the front desk in an envelope with my name on it with a note that it was to help out with the new baby. I felt such gratitude and love and felt a great desire to return the favor when possible. On our office Pinterest page I included a board labeled “Kindness”. Feel free to visit this board for hundreds of ideas on small, doable acts of kindness. I believe kindness is an important value for both the giver and the receiver and has the potential to influence the world for good. I love the quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
The following video illustrates the importance of kindness as well as it’s ripple effect. The first part discusses the importance of kindness. Don’t miss the second half of the video where there is a lovely representation of kindness. The subtitle on this video states, “One act of kindness can have unknown and profound consequences.”
After watching the video and considering all the kids and teenagers who will be out of school for the summer, as well as adults who may be on vacation, I thought what would be better than increasing our children and our own happiness levels by encouraging and participating in small random acts of kindness. Here is a quick list of ideas to get you started:
- Every time you open up any form of social media send a positive message/text/tweet/picture/etc. to praise or thank someone you may not routinely message.
- Write a positive note to anyone who may frequently provide service for you (garbage collector, teacher, babysitter, religious advisor, waitress, food service worker, etc.)
- Put change/money in a candy/gum/candy/snack machine at a grocery store or place of work.
- Put a positive note or dollar bill in a beloved book at the library.
- Rake, weed, do yard work for an elderly neighbor.
- Put change in parking meters.
- Make lunches for a homeless facility (check with the facility first to find out how they would like you to do this).
- Get a group together to sing or perform at a retirement facility (call the facility first to check needs and times).
- go to family reunions and really communicate and get to know your cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other relatives.
- Take chilled bottled water and/or popsicles to a parade and give them out to thirsty or over-heated people for free (with parental permission of course).
- Call someone you haven’t contacted recently.
- Hold doors open for people
- Let someone go ahead of you in line.
- Tell your parents thank-you for something you don’t usually thank them for.
- Donate clothing or toys to a thrift store.
- Give a compliment
- Return a shopping cart for someone.
- Carry around snacks, drinks in the car to give to homeless people.
- Draw a picture and send it to someone.
“When we practice loving kindness and compassion we are the first ones to profit.”Rumi
Let’s make this summer the summer of kindness and increased happiness!