What are random acts of kindness? How do I know if I’m being kind or if I’m being selfish?
WHY SHOULD I BE KIND?
Studies show that acts of charity and kindness improve the health of our body, mind and spirit. When you are kind to yourself and others, your energy level improves, your circulation improves, pain decreases, digestion improves and a general sense of well-being in heightened.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M BEING KIND?
True kindness comes from deep within the heart. You will know when you are being kind or when someone is being kind to you because you feel a warmth, a stirring within you as Soul. You feel appreciated, valued, cared for and loved. You feel grateful. When you are being kind to someone else, you are not thinking of your own personal agenda, you are acting selflessly for the greater good of another person or of a community.
If a person is able to receive your gift of kindness, often that person lights up with appreciation and gratitude. That person softens and the true light from within shines much brighter. Be honest with yourself. Are you being kind or are you trying to control others by helping others? No one likes a “do-gooder” who is trying to help, when no help is wanted. This is not an act of kindness. This is an act of power. If you make a mistake (and we all do) and realize that your efforts were unkind, love yourself and forgive yourself. You can choose to learn valuable lesson and start over. Learning how to be kind is worth the effort, for yourself and others.
WHAT IF A PERSON DOESN’T ACCEPT MY KINDNESS?
Sometimes people are not able to receive gifts of kindness and love. Check in with yourself and trust your intuition. One of two situations might be occurring:
- Maybe you are not doing what the person wants and needs, but instead you are doing what you think is best for them.
- Maybe that person truly is grateful but feels depressed, ashamed and is unable to receive your kindness, compassion and love. If a person doesn’t accept your kindness, allow that person freedom to live life in their own way, but check in with yourself. Make sure you are being truly kind.
How do you know whether you are being kind or whether your actions are self-motivated? It is important to be honest with yourself. A truly kind person knows how to listen and gives from the heart. Sometimes kindness means just quietly listening. If you trust your intuition and truly act from the heart with love, you will soon discover how to be kind.
WHAT DOES RESEARCH TELL US?
A 2013 study, “A Functional Genomic Perspective on Human Well-being” by researchers Barbara Frederickson, Stephen Cole, and others at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of North Carolina found that people whose happiness was based on helping others, rather than on aquiring materialistic objects, had lower inflammatory markers and improved levels of antibodies, needed for fighting off disease. Researchers analyzed the blood of 80 healthy volunteers. The volunteers were surveyed to determine what made them happy and gave them a feeling of satisfaction in life. The volunteers whose happiness was more eudaemonic, or based on a sense of higher purpose and service to others had profiles that displayed augmented levels of antibody-producing gene expression and lower levels of the pro-inflammatory expression. They concluded that “the human genome may be more sensitive to qualitative variations in well-being than are our conscious affective experiences.”
A May 2013 study, “Compassion Training Alters Altruism and Neural Responses to Suffering” by researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that adults can be trained to be more compassionate. The report is published in the online journal Psychological Science, and is the first to investigate whether training adults in compassion can result in greater altruistic (kind, selfless, and generous) behavior. After the training in compassion, there was an increase in altruistic “redistribution of funds.” Researchers Weng, Fox, and others, concluded “These results suggest that compassion can be cultivated with training and that greater altruistic behavior may emerge from increased engagement of neural systems implicated in understanding the suffering of other people, executive and emotional control, and reward processing.”
60 RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS
You most likely are practicing random acts of kindness every day. Being kind can be as simple as smiling. Here are a few ideas for random acts of kindness. If you don’t see an act of kindness that you have tried, please share and add to this list by making a comment below.
- If you drive through a toll booth, pay the toll for the next person behind you.
- If you live in an area with snow, shovel the sidewalk for your neighbor.
- Pick up litter in the community at parks, playgrounds, parking lots, sidewalks, etc., without being asked to do so, or without joining a community service organization.
- Offer to help your family members or friends with a project they are working with.
- Bring in a neighbor’s trash cans from the street.
- Write a poem for a loved one and read it to them.
- When you go to a public library and see books placed on the self crooked or shoved back too far, straighten the books on the bookshelf to be helpful to the next person (let the librarian be in charge of shelving, but you can do your part to straighten).
- If you see someone who looks lost, take time to give directions.
- If you see someone struggling with carrying packages to their car, offer to help carry the bags for them.
- Leave a book or magazine at a laundromat or waiting room for the next person to read.
- If you see a parking meter that has expired, put coins in the meter for the person.
- Write motivational messages or inspirational notes on “sticky notes” or “PostIts” for your family members, such as “You make me smile,” or “I’m grateful for you in my life,” or “Thank you for being so kind,” and leave them in little places around the house where they will be sure to see them.
- Buy extra dog food or dog treats and donate it to a local animal shelter.
- Write a letter or mail a package to a person in the armed forces. Find out more by visiting www.military.com
- Write letters of encouragement on friendship note cards and deliver them to a senior center, such as “You are beautiful and shine with love,” “Have a wonderful day,” “Sending you warm showers of love today.”
- When you leave a public bathroom that is not well-kept, take a paper towel and wipe off the counter for the next person.
- Buy a box of holiday cards and sign them with holiday love and best wishes. Deliver them to a homeless shelter, hospital, or nursing home.
- If you have a secretary or assistant who helps you, bring that person a special gift, food treat, or favorite beverage first thing in the morning.
- Stick a thank you note outside the door for the newspaper carrier.
- Bake cookies or create healthy food baskets (such as raw fruits) to give as “gratitude gifts” and drop them off to public servants such as firefighters or police men or women.
- When you are mowing your yard, and you know that your neighbor wants their yard mowed, mow your neighbor’s yard as well.
- Send thank you cards to people who help you every day, such as the hairdresser, the dentist, the apartment manager etc., thanking them for their service.
- Stop by a florist shop and buy flowers or pick flowers from your flower garden. Then listen inwardly for guidance and give the flowers to the first person you see who is in need of receiving love.
- If you go to church, put a note in the collection plate along with your offering, thanking the minister and staff for the love they put into the service.
- Begin to collect coins or bills in a jar each day, and then donate the collection to charity.
- If you happen to walk or drive by a home that is well-kept, with a beautiful garden or yard, write a little note and put it in their mail box telling them how much you appreciate the love they put into their home.
- Buy a bird feeder, or put a plate or pan outside in the yard to provide birdseed for the birds and squirrels.
- Write a letter or note to a very old friend, classmate, or someone you haven’t seen for many years, and tell them why you appreciate them and what a difference they have made in your life.
- If you are shopping at a grocery store and a person is checking out in front of you, doesn’t have enough change handy at the register, offer your coins to them.
- If someone owes you money, let it go, forgive them and never think of it again.
- Say, “I’m sorry” to someone when you’ve made a mistake.
- When you are leaving a restaurant, pay for someone else’s meal without them knowing about it.
- If you see someone on the street asking for money, give a donation to them.
- When you use a vending machine, leave your change for the next person.
- If you are in a crowded bus, offer someone your seat.
- Offer to babysit for your friend’s children so that the parents can have a special “date night” out.
- Take time out to really listen to a loved one or friend.
- If there is a donation box at the checkout in a store, add some money to the collection.
- If you see a shopping cart out in the parking lot, return the shopping cart back to the store or to its storage area.
- If you notice that a neighbor is moving, walk over to their house and offer to help pack or lift boxes.
- If someone is explaining themselves and talking for a long time and your mind begins drifting to other thoughts about your own life, stop yourself from drifting and just listen and let them talk.
- Check your phone book for local animal shelters and volunteer at the animal shelter (walk dogs, pet kittens, help with cleaning cages, or feed animals).
- If you enter or leave a building and notice someone behind you, hold the door open so they can walk ahead of you.
- If you see a homeless person on the street and you’ve just left the grocery store, give them a bag of groceries, and go back for more.
- Say hello, good morning or good afternoon when you see people on the street.
- Offer to let someone step ahead of you when you are waiting in line.
- If you have elderly neighbors with dogs, offer to walk their dogs.
- Begin the habit of buying two or three extra cans or packages of food when you go shopping. Check your local area for food banks or the Salvation Army and donate to food banks regularly.
- Call the local schools and volunteer to be a tutor or mentor.
- Write a thank you note to your teacher or coach and tell them how much they helped you.
- When you are driving your car and another car is trying to merge into traffic, let them merge into your lane.
- If you take the city bus, be extra kind to a bus driver. Say hello, tell them how much you appreciate what they do.
- Call friends or family members whom you do not see often and tell them what you appreciate about them. Ask them to share how they are doing. Listen and be a good friend.
- Donate toys to children in need.
- If you are living with another family member, do chores or errands for them that they ordinarily do for themselves or others (such as the laundry, dusting, cooking, etc.).
- If a friend or family member looks tired, offer to fix them a cup of tea or give them a foot massage or something to eat.
- Be friendly to new neighbors and bring them a food basket.
- Sort through all of your clothes and donate clothes you don’t use anymore to a used clothing store or homeless shelter.
- Offer to “pet sit” for friends who are going vacationing.
- Smile at everyone you see and everyone you don’t see (even when you are talking on the phone). Remember that kindness starts in the heart and is felt from one person to another across the miles.
NY Times – “Looking to Genes for the Secret to Happiness”
PNAS – “A functional genomic perspective on human well-being”
NY Times – “Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?”
University of Wisconsin Madison – “Brain Can Be Trained in Compassion, Study Shows”
Psychological Science – “Compassion Training Alters Altruism and Neural Responses to Suffering”
Random Acts of Kindness (www.randomactsofkindness.org)
This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.
Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.