Every good post on kindness should start with a good and aptly sentimental quote. Anne Frank once said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single minute before starting to improve the world.” She was so accurate. We don’t have to wait for a reason to be nice or a time to give back. We can make the decision to do better for ourselves and for others at any minute of any day. It’s a simple but powerful construct when you think about it. Takes little, gives big. The ROI is phenomenal. In fact, a “2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that people who are altruistic—in this case, people who were generous financially, such as with charitable donations—were happiest overall.”
Still, something about the holiday season in particular, with family and friends prominent in our hearts and minds, really inspires our humanitarianism. More than any other time of the year, people make time to spread kindness and goodwill. Though our hope is that it lasts more than just a month of festivities, we want to encourage the natural inclination to celebrate joy and giving this holiday season. Here are 5 ways to spread the kindness this holiday and beyond:
Have you ever tried to pay at a drive-thru and been told that the car in front of you already covered your bill? Or maybe you’ve been the person that paid for someone behind you. It’s just a random act of kindness to put a smile on a stranger’s face with the simple request that you pay it forward at some point.
Or… you see someone struggling with their grocery bags. You offer to help carry the load.
Or… your waiter is clearly having a bad shift, so you leave a 40% tip.
These simple little gestures help connect humanity; when so many other things are creating separation and descension, these random acts of kindness spark unity. If you need more ideas, check out this resource for 101 choices to get you started!
Have you ever walked into work and gone to sit down at your desk only to see your favorite flowers or lip balm sitting there for you? It makes you ridiculously happy, right? Someone thought of you. Someone spent time and money on you. And they didn’t have to, but they did. Such a small amount of effort can change the entire demeanor of a person.
In one study done, they found that spending money on others results in more happiness than spending it on oneself. The researchers noted that even a small amount of money produced big results. And in other research performed at the University of British Columbia, Elizabeth Dunn found that given $50 to spend, those that spent it on others over themselves were significantly happier at the end of the day.
Volunteer. Donate. Give back. 1 in 8 households in the United States are food insecure. 17.7 per 10,000 people in the U.S. were homeless in 2015. In 2014, cancer patients in United States paid almost $4 billion out-of-pocket!
There are so many areas in our country and communities that would benefit from our time or money or both. And as a fortunate side effect, your generosity can improve your health! According to author, Christine Carter, “Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.”
Yep, this counts. Ya know why? If we are all honest, often when someone asks us for a favor, we don’t really want to do it. If you have free time, driving someone to the airport probably doesn’t rank high on your list of ways you want to spend it. Doing those little favors anyway helps someone that needs it and spreads the warm fuzzies.
Mark Twain stated, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
Your hard work really showed on this project. You look lovely today. You are such a good parent/friend/sibling/coworker… When you make someone feel good, you feel good in return. It’s a kindness win-win. You never know what sticks with a person and sometimes, maybe just maybe, those kind words travel the journey of happy memories for someone. The ripple effect can start with your simple, genuine statement.
This holiday, and every day, spread kindness when you can, where you can and how you can. When you do good, the effects become palpable in the form of positive energy spreading farther than you will see first-hand. That’s the beauty of it; the contagious nature of kindness to spread and grow beyond the original act.