What this world needs is a new kind of army - the army of the kind
- Cleveland Amory
In the movie Holy Smoke, Kate Winslett writes on Harvey Keitel's forehead "Be kind". It hit me hard when I was watching. Whenever I hear Jewel singing "Hands", the words "only kindness matters" sum up what I think can make a huge difference in the world.
Kindness is a wonderful form of giving that brings many rewards. Some are immediate and others take time to be realized, but being kind is a good thing for all involved.
Kindness is an easy way to make the world around us a better place to be, mainly because it is contagious. When you give, some day your kindness comes back.
People say that whenever they are kind, they feel good, so in a sense, we are kind because it makes us feel good - we get an instant reward.
A loving person lives in a loving world
A hostile person lives in a hostile world
Everyone you meet is your mirror
- Ken Keyes Jr
In 1991, Allan Luks (former executive director of The Institute for the Advancement of Health and executive director of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program in New York City) documented a study about kindness in a book called "The healing power of doing good: The health and spiritual benefits of helping others".
In a survey he conducted among 3,000 people of all ages from 20 organizations around the USA, he found clearly that "Helping contributes to the maintenance of good health and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders both serious and minor, psychological and physical". So there you have it - if you want to be happy and healthy, help others!
In his research, Luks found that helping others and being kind resulted in a sharp reduction of stress and increased the release of endorphins (the body's natural feel-good drugs). Over 90% of participants in his research reported that regular volunteering lowered their stress level and contributed to their health and wellbeing.
Acts of kindness do not have to be big. We are all kind in our nature and the kinder we are, the more kindness we have in our life. I have found that many people look for ideas, so this post is about making a list of ideas to be kind.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted
How to list 100 acts of kindness
- Anything you do that makes others feel good is an act of kindness.
- Be kind to yourself too. If doing it does not make you feel good, it is not a good act to perform. You are supposed to gain from it, not the other way.
- People do not have to return an act of kindness for it to make them happy and feel good. If they do not say anything, just reward yourself by saying, "I'm a kind person and I'm happy for it".
- Acts of kindness can be small and take little effort, like waiting and giving space to a car that is getting out of a parking space, or big and difficult, like sending boxes of clothes from your entire school community to the other side of the world. It is the thought that counts, not the size.
- You can be kind to people you know or to total strangers. Still, you are kind.
- Count your kindness every day! Imagine there is a tank of kindness and your task is to keep it full to the brim. The kinder you are, the healthier and happier you will be.
Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness
50 acts of kindness
Here is a list of things you can do to be kind. Even if you use them directly, first complete the list to 100, but I encourage you to adapt my suggestions to your style and abilities and to generate your own list of 100 acts of kindness.
- Smile at everyone you see. Your smile is contagious, so everyone will smile right back and you will be surrounded by lovely people, while on the inside, the physical act of smiling will also make you feel good all the time.
- Give some of the clothes you no longer use to the Salvation Army shop or similar charity organization.
- Ask, "Can I help?" or "Is there anything I can do for you?" Sometimes just the question is a great help.
- Whenever you are invited to someone's home, bring something - a dish, some flowers or a small gift.
- Send the people you know cards on their birthdays.
- Buy small items in garage sales, wrap them nicely and give them to people you do not know at the hospital, in elderly homes, etc.
- When you make a really special dish, give some to your neighbor.
- When you go shopping and find a big bag of potatoes for a bargain price, give a small bag to your neighbors.
- When you hear your neighbors are going away for a while, offer to watch over their house, collect their mail and take put garbage out.
- At the end of your kids' birthday parties, go with your kids to the hospital and hand out all the balloons to sick kids.
- Make inspiring cards and hand them out freely to the people you meet.
- Write a thank you note to the secretary at your kids' school or the receptionist at a business you frequent.
- Print courage and motivation quotes and hand them out at your local hospital to sick people and their family members.
- Leave some change in the coffee machine (can you imagine the expression on the next person's face?).
- Copy positive, motivating statements from a horoscope and send them to people you love as birthday or New Year card.
- Teach your kids about recycling. This is kindness to the Earth and to future generations (including … you kids!).
- Use a compost bin. This is also kindness to the Earth.
- Plant a tree.
- Save water. This is kindness to the Earth and to all the people sharing this planet.
- Let people through in traffic. It can make their day and only takes seconds of your time.
- Pick 10 names out of the phone book and send them nice cards.
- Pick up garbage you never threw away. This is both and act of kindness and a good behavior model to anyone else looking.
- Tell someone who was kind that you appreciate their kindness.
- When someone gives you great service, leave a big tip.
- Make a habit of saying thank you!
- Hug strangers at a Free Hugs campaign (it is the greatest feeling ever, trust me!).
- Hide a motivational card in a library book when you bring it back to the library, so the next person borrowing the book will enjoy it.
- Visit a sick friend.
- Offer to babysit friends' kids.
- Say "I love you" to the people you love. Even if they know, it still makes them feel good when you say it.
- Tell your kids how wonderful they are and how happy you are to have them.
- Give your old magazines at waiting rooms.
- Help in the house without being asked.
- Call someone you have not talked to for a while.
- Write your kids love notes and put them in their lunch boxes.
- Send your partner love SMS.
- Hold the door for someone on their way in or out.
- Visit your parents often and tell them how much you appreciate them. If this is a bit of a challenge, find something to appreciate them for and focus on it when you talk to them.
- Lend books to your friends.
- If you find something that is not yours, give it back.
- Offer someone with just a few items to go ahead in the checkout line.
- Compliment people.
- Welcome new people into your neighborhood, club, community, school…
- Give up your seat on the bus or train to someone that might need it more than you.
- Give your plastic bags to the library for people to carry their books home when they forget to bring a carry bag.
- When you take a photo of other people, send them a copy too.
- Cut some herbs from your garden and bring them to friends when you come to visit.
- Share a good recipe with others.
- Bring some cookies to work and share with others.
I hope these give you some ideas.
Remember, an act of kindness every day will increase your health and well being. What goes around, comes around.
Join me next week to make a list of 100 ways to be more productive.
Until next time, be kind!
This post is part of the series Make a List:
- Make a list: List Making
- Make a list: About Myself
- Make a list: Friends and Friendships
- Make a list: My Lifetime
- Make a list: Things I am Happy about
- Make a list: Childhood Memories
- Make a list: Ways to say “I love you!”
- Make a list: What I like about me
- Make a list: Things to ask for my birthday
- Make a list: Improve My Life
- Make a list: Things to tell my parents
- Make a list: Beliefs about Money
- Make a list: Feelings I Want to Feel
- Make a list: If I Could Live Forever
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids cont.
- Make a list: Events that have shaped my life
- Make a list: Ways to be kind
- Make a list: Be More Productive
- Make a list: Mistakes (and what I can learn from them)
- Make a list: Expectations
- Make a list: Beliefs about Traveling
- Make a list: Rules I Follow
- Make a list: Good Parenting Qualities
- Make a list: Excuses
- Make a list: Quotes to live by
- Make a list: How to use my time better
- Make a list: If I were Santa Claus
- Make a list: If I had one year to live
- Make a list: Things that Make Me Happy
- Make a list: Movies I loved
- Make a List: My Fears
- Make a List: Find your Happy-ism
- Make a List: Inspiring People
- Make a List: Books that have changed my life
- Make a list: Inspiring Movies