7 Ways Random Acts of Kindness Enrich Your Life
But let’s be real here. Even though we know acts of a kindness are a big deal, we’re not always pros at dishing it out. Our self-interests often hog the spotlight, dimming the needs of others. Our lives, full-throttle in the pursuit of success, sometimes blind us to the simple stuff around us – those everyday needs that we could effortlessly meet if we just paused and gave a damn.
So, in this article, I am diving deep into why kindness is wired into your human DNA, the awesome paybacks for rocking that kindness vibe, and some hands-on tactics to seriously jack up your kindness game in your day-to-day hustle. By the time we’re done here, you’ll be all pumped up to slap a fresh coat of purpose onto your kindness crusade.
Let’s kick off this adventure with a potent tale from the master storyteller himself, John W. Schlatter. This little narrative paints a vivid picture of just how massive a ripple of a tiny drop of kindness can create.
How a simple act of kindness became a lifeline saved a life
Back in 1993, the literary maestro John W. Schlatter penned a tale that’s like a punch in the gut reminder of how a single, unassuming act of kindness can snatch someone from the jaws of despair. He named it ‘A Simple Gesture,” and here’s the rundown:
So there’s this guy named Mark, just strollin’ home from school one day. Ahead of him, some poor kid spills his whole life – books, sweaters, baseball gear, you name it. Without missing a beat, Mark swoops in like a hero and helps the kid collect his stuff. They’re headed in the same direction, so Mark lends a hand with the load. And as they walk, secrets spill. Kid’s name? Bill. His loves? Video games, baseball, and some good ol’ history. His struggles? Everything else. Plus, he’s fresh out of a breakup. Ouch.
They get to Bill’ ‘s house, and bam, Mark’s invited in for some Coke and TV. Afternoon turns into laughter, chit-chat, and before you know it, Mark heads home. But guess what? This ain’t no one-time thing. They start bumping into each other at school, grab lunch a couple of times, and even graduate from junior high together. High school? Yup, same place. They cross paths here and there over the years. Then, boom, senior year drops and three weeks before tossing those caps, Bill hits Mark with a “we need to talk.”
And here’s where it gets deep. Bill takes a trip down memory lane, back to the day they first crossed paths. Turns out, that day was more than just books falling – Bill was carrying a load way heavier. Hidden away were his mom’s sleeping pills, and he was marching home with a plan. A dark plan. But then, Mark happened. They talked, they laughed, they bonded. And in that shared moment, Bill saw a different path. A path that held more moments, more laughter, more life. So, in a way, when Mark scooped up those scattered books, he did way more than just a good deed. He saved a life.
This story – oh man – is such a phenomenal example of how potent a simple act of kindness can be. And trust me, there are tons of these true tales floating around. Not all might be this dramatic, but each one packs a punch, reminding us of the force kindness wields.
So, here’s the thought grenade I’m tossing your way: Is kindness something we’re born with, or is it a skill we whip up as we age? Buckle up, ’cause we’re diving into the answer.
Is kindness hardwired or hard-earned?
On Passion Struck, I recently interviewed Dacher Keltner, the psychology guru from UC Berkeley and the brain behind the Greater Good Science Center, who highlights that scientific research has unveiled a neural network in the brain intricately linked to the oxytocin system. Oxytocin, a neuropeptide, plays a pivotal role in fostering empathy and generosity in humans.
In his book “Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life,” Keltner delves further into the notion that our evolution as a species has endowed us with innate predispositions towards qualities like kindness, generosity, and self-sacrifice. These traits? The brainchild of evolution’s grand agenda – survival, gene spread, and the harmonious functioning of groups.
So, kindness isn’t just a philosophical notion; it’s biology at play, etched into our neural circuitry.
Hold up, though. Here’s the curveball: While we’re born with kindness on speed dial, it’s no smooth sail from there. We have to earn our kindness stripes through learning and sweat. See, while we’re geared for kindness, we’ve also got this flip side – a penchant for unkindness, fueled by life’s quirky scenarios and the environment’s whispers. Think of it like the infamous tale of two wolves duking it out inside us – one good, one not-so-nice. Asked which wolf wins, the answer’s sly: the one we feed. Yep, what we nurture rules the roost within.
So, it’s checkmate time: we gotta reckon with our not-so-kind inclinations, serving them up some tough love. Only then can we shower sunlight on our virtuous side through consistent acts of kindness.
Question Time: Have you ever caught yourself in the tug of these two wolves? Which one are you feeding these days?
The price tag of acts of kindness: Are YOU willing to pay?
Listen up, folks. Acts of kindness, that stuff we all claim to love, sometimes makes us flinch, hesitate, or even pull back. Weird, right? Why would we hold back on something so fundamentally good? Well, let’s dive into the grit.
Here’s the twist: Even though kindness should be as easy as breathing, we often get caught up in our heads. We overthink, second-guess, and worry about the emotional fallout. Like, what if our kindness isn’t needed? Or worse, what if people see right through us, thinking we’re just after some brownie points? These doubts creep in, and we end up passing on kindness just to dodge vulnerability.
If you can grasp this truth – that you don’t need to tiptoe around other people’s opinions – and instead focus on your sincere intention to make the world a tad better, boom! You’re ready to throw kindness around like confetti.
So, in a nutshell, kindness isn’t free. It costs something precious – Courage. The courage to be open, to give without holding back, to let yourself be seen. Maya Angelou, the wisdom powerhouse, nailed it: “It takes courage to be kind. Courage is the most significant of all virtues because, without courage, one cannot consistently practice any other virtue.”
Now, It’s Your Turn: Are you ready to cough up that courage? How willing are you to give without expecting anything in return?
The kindness effect: More than meets the eye
So, you’ve heard being kind is a good thing, right? But here’s the kicker: it’s not just good. It’s a mind-blowing win-win-win. Let’s break it down, shall we?
- Experience of joy and awe
Kindness isn’t just some good deed; it’s a one-way ticket to joy and awe. Picture this: You spread acts of kindness, and suddenly, you’re swimming in a pool of intense happiness. But it doesn’t stop there. You’re also hit with awe – that jaw-dropping wonder at the moral beauty around you. During a previous interview with Professor Dacher Keltner, the author of “Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life,” he shared how acts of kindness are like awe magnets.
- Fulfillment and satisfaction: Life’s big high-five
You know that warm, fuzzy feeling when you do something kind and you see the impact on someone’s face? Yeah, that’s satisfaction on steroids. It’s like hitting life’s jackpot because you just made someone’s day, or maybe even life, better. And guess what? It’s a spiritual power-up that boosts your overall life quality.
- Relationship supercharger: The kindness passport
Remember that line by Joseph B Wirthlin, “Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends”? It’s not just poetic fluff; it’s real. Being kind is like waving a magic wand for awesome relationships. It’s the ripple effect – your kindness reaches people, connects dots, and suddenly, you’re in a network of awesome people and opportunities.
- Mood booster and stress crusher
Research conducted at Emory University has revealed your brain loves kindness. When you dish it out, your brain’s pleasure zones light up like a disco ball. And when you see acts of kindness in action, oxytocin – the ultimate mood-lifter – floods your system, reducing stress, boosting energy, and giving your heart a high-five. Plus, serotonin – the happiness wizard – gets in on the action, making you chill and super positive.
- Pain? Anxiety? Not on kindness’ watch
Let’s talk about endorphins – your brain’s painkillers. Kindness pushes the endorphin button, giving you a natural high and kicking pain to the curb. Oh, and did I mention cortisol – the stress hormone? Kindness crushes that, too, leaving you cool as a cucumber. It’s your ticket to a zen-like mental state, waving away depression and inviting a mental well-being party.
All of this goodness? It’s like the fountain of youth – a secret elexir for a longer, happier life.
Now, Your Turn: Have you ever felt the power of these kindness benefits? Think back to acts of kindness that you have performed and how they made you feel. Drop a comment, and let’s keep the conversation rolling!
Living the kindness code: A blueprint for a meaningful life
You know, being kind doesn’t need a red carpet-event. It’s not about grand gestures; it’s in the small, everyday stuff, like helping a kiddo cross the street or offering a listening ear. The beauty is that kindness doesn’t stick to a script. It’s a versatile masterpiece, painted in a million colors. So, how do you make kindness your life’s rhythm? Here’s the lowdown on the seven keys to living a life dripping with acts of kindness:
- Kindness starts with you
To rock kindness, you have to start with Numero Uno: yourself. If you’re handing out self-criticism like candy, that’s what you’ll spread around. Treat yourself kindly, and that kindness will flow to others like a waterfall.
- Open up and feel empathy
Kindness demands a dash of vulnerability – putting yourself out there despite the risks. And empathy? That’s your backstage pass to someone else’s feelings. Be a sponge for their emotions; you’ll have all the tools that you need to rock the kindness scene. For further insights on vulnerability and empathy, check out episode 202 on Learning How to be Vulnerable and episode 118 on the Importance of Empathy to Your Life.
- Forgive like a boss
To be kind, you gotta let go of past grudges. Yep, forgiveness is your golden ticket to kindness town. Ditch old wounds, and watch your kindness levels skyrocket. Check out episode 208 on the Power of Forgiveness for further insights on forgiveness.
- Tune in to your surroundings
Let’s face it – we’re all guilty of getting lost in our little bubbles. Break free! Pay attention to the world around you. Who needs a hand? Whose day can you brighten? Trust me, opportunities are everywhere.
- Shower compliments like confetti
Compliments are your magic wand. Wave them around like there’s no tomorrow. Genuine words of appreciation? They’re like little kindness bombs that explode in smiles.
- Small acts, big ripples
Never think an act is too small to matter. Remember what author Scott Adams said? “There’s no such thing as a small act of kindness.” Every act sets off a ripple effect with no end in sight. So, go ahead – spread those ripples far and wide. Smile at someone, offer to run errands for a neighbor, walk a friend’s dog, leave a tip for a waiter, or pay for someone’s coffee. You’ll discover that these seemingly modest gestures can have a far-reaching impact beyond what you imagine.
- Meditate on kindness
Meditation isn’t just a relaxation tool; it’s your backstage pass to the kindness show. A specific kind of meditation, loving-kindness meditation, boosts positivity and kindness. It’s like giving your brain a superpower injection. For further insights on meditation practice, check out episode 339 with Dr. Jud Brewer on overcoming anxiety or episode 160 on the Benefits of Meditation for Transforming the Mind and Body.
Bottom Line: Kindness isn’t a hobby; it’s a way of life. And guess what? The more you sprinkle it around, the more it comes back to you. So, gear up, embrace the seven steps, and let’s make this world a kinder place.
Your move: Which step resonates most with you? Share your thoughts, let’s dive in, and cultivate a life that oozes kindness.
Embrace the ripple effect: Make acts of kindness an intentional habit
Here’s the deal: knowing stuff is great, but it’s in doing that the magic happens. You’ve soaked in these insights; now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and spread some kindness.
It’s not about holding on to this knowledge like a prized possession. Nope, it’s about living it. It’s about turning that knowledge into actions – into real, tangible, everyday acts of kindness.
From covering a meal’s cost to throwing out genuine compliments, from comforting the distressed to making charitable gestures – your canvas is limitless. Kindness isn’t a one-time show. It’s your daily rhythm, your way of being. And guess what? It’s not a resource-drainer; it’s a life-enhancer.
And here’s the secret sauce: This isn’t just about you. It’s about the ripple effect – your kindness touching lives you might never meet. It’s about a world that becomes a better, happier place because of you.
Your Mission: Say goodbye to indifference. Let’s make kindness an instinct, a reflex, a part of who you are. And watch as your everyday actions create a happier world for all of us. Be the change – not someday, but right now.
I also wrote about the power of asking, which is essential for helping you get what you want in any situation.
Six Proven Techniques to Help You Get What You Need in Any Situationmedium.com
Thank you for taking the time to engage with my perspectives. May your journey be filled with joy, growth, and fulfillment.
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