Article from Brenda Brunsdon, Occupational Health and Wellbeing Team Manager
This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week and Wednesday, 17 February, is celebrated as Random Acts of Kindness Day. The strapline this year is ‘Explore the Good and Make Kindness the Norm’.
What is so special about being kind that it needs a specific day dedicated to it, let alone a whole week to celebrate it? Then again, isn’t being kind so natural that we shouldn’t need a campaign or special day to remind us of its importance in everyday life?
Kindness is a lot more important than we think. When we act with kindness towards others, do things to make their lives easier, go out of our way to bring them happiness, we do ourselves good as well. To quote Portia in Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’: ‘The quality of mercy….is twice blessed; it blesseth him who gives and him who takes’.
When a person gives or receives kindness, both individuals involved experience a release of feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters. We get a dose of serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. All of this lifts our mood, relieves pain, and physically helps heal any inflammation in our bodies. What’s even more amazing is that the positive effects that occur are also experienced by onlookers who see the act of kindness. It amounts to a cascade of positivity, happiness, and calmness.
There are many research studies that bear out these positive effects which come from practicing kindness. It only needs to be a few acts of kindness a week to make a difference. Some research has shown that extending this to engaging in loving kindness meditation can actually help a person live longer – see the BrainCraft YouTube video below.
Kindness has assumed an even greater emphasis over the pandemic crisis. Our worlds have been turned upside down by restrictions, illness, grief, and fear. Extending kindness to ourselves and those round us has never been more important. So, really make an effort to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day this year. If you’re struggling to think of what you can do, some of the links below have suggestions. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, who initiated this as a focus day some years ago, even has a Toolkit you can use, (link below).
It’s rare that something so easy to do is also so very good for us; it really is minimal effort for maximum gain.
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation Toolkit for 2021 Campaign ‘Explore the Good and Make Kindness the Norm’
‘Make Kindness the Norm’ Random Acts of Kindness Foundation Workplace Calendar 2021
Lifevestinside Kindness Cards on lifevestinside.com
‘35 Random Acts of Kindness You Can Do While Social Distancing’ on Waterford.org
‘Random Acts of Kindness’ and ‘Kindness Matters Guide’ on mentalhealth.org.uk
‘The Selfish Benefits of Kindness’ by BrainCraft on YouTube
‘The Science of Kindness’ by randomactsofkindness on YouTube
‘Official Song of LifeVestInside – Show You Care’ by lifevestinside on YouTube
‘Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor’ research publication by Curry OS, Rowland LA, Van Lissa CJ, Zlotowitz S, McAlaney J, Whitehouse H in J Exp Soc Psychol. 2018;76:320–9 via ScienceDirect.com
‘Happy People become Happier through Kindness: a Counting Kindnesses Intervention’ by Otake K, Shimai S, Tanaka-Matsumi J, Otsui K, Fredrickson BL. In J Happiness Stud. 2006;7(3):361–75. Via PubMed.gov