Overcoming The Challenges
#1 Isn’t it funny how whenever you decide to do something, you suddenly run out of ideas? Well, the awesome crew at RAK have us covered! Their website, www.randomactsofkindness.org is literally packed with ideas to inspire your daily random acts of kindness.
#2 Do you find, like many of us, that even though you rate kindness as one of your top values, when it comes to the opportunity to act with kindness you often hesitate? Sadly, we too often tend to hold back, perhaps in concern about embarrassing the other person, or appearing too familiar or a bit of an odd bod. But take a few deep belly breaths (Hack #1) to step into Presence (Hack #3) and shrug off your survival brain based inhibitions to be your true self and create a special moment for both you and the other person. You never know when a smile could change somebody's day, or even a life.
#3 But what if you’re thoroughly hacked off with somebody and just don’t feel like being kind to them? Tap into your non-judging compassionate self and remember that we do not know what challenges or struggles they face right now. Once we remind ourselves of this, it is so much easier to handle the situation in a more positive and kind manner.
#4 And what if you’re just not in the mood? The upside here is that being kind will likely improve your mood instantaneously. When you give an act of kindness, it is hard to feel negativity. At the very least it is a boost to your own self-worthiness that you are in a position to give to somebody else. So if you’re feeling too grumpy to be kind, start by simply lifting the corners of your mouth and just run with what happens next…
#5 Being kind to others is kinda easy (most of the time), but one thing that almost all my clients find a huge challenge is self-kindness and it’s a huge block to leading a happy and fulfilled life. That’s a topic for another day, but for now, performing a random act of kindness to somebody else is also going to double up as kindness to self. It’s a wonderful and simple head-start to something that can take time and energy to change.
Because not only can a few kind words improve somebody else’s day (or week or even life!) and help you live true to your heartfelt values… it also makes YOU happier AND healthier!
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It might feel obvious to you that kindness leads to feeling fulfilled, which leads to being happier and healthier. Or perhaps the connection to your physical health feels a little tenuous at best. But luckily there are some amazing scientists, such as happiness expert, Sonja Lyubomirsky, who actually carry out research into happiness and they have shown that acts of kindness have a positive effect on your happiness.
Other studies have shown that kindness brings improvements to emotional wellness, sense of life-purpose, BMI, inflammation, cholesterol reading and cardiovascular health  and . Older adults, in particular, have experienced significant benefits, including physical and cognitive improvements, more connectedness, lowered blood pressure and lower mortality.
Essentially, being kind produces oxytocin (the ‘love hormone’), which helps to lower blood pressure, improve heart-health and increase self-esteem and optimism (i.e. happiness). Kindness brings about more energy and longer lifespan, while decreasing pain, stress, anxiety and depression.
- Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky’s talk on kindness https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/video/item/happiness_for_a_lifetime
- Some of the science of kindness, from the awesome RAKtavist crew! https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness
- Info from Dr Waguih William IsHak at Cedars-Sinai Hospital https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/science-of-kindness.html
- Study linking kindness to boosting happiness https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29702043/
- Study showing that happiness really is contagious https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081205094506.htm
- A bunch of kindness ideas from Random Acts of Kindness https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas
- Some thoughts on kindness and happiness from Harvard Health https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-heart-and-science-of-kindness-2019041816447
- An article summarising numerous studies on the benefits of kindness https://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-power-of-giving-what-we-get-when-we-give/
- And if you like listening to things, here is a podcast about the benefit of kindness https://www.uhhospitals.org/Healthy-at-UH/articles/2020/10/the-science-behind-kindness