Today is the start of Random Acts of Kindness Week. What have you done to be kind? At home? At work? In your community? To yourself?
We used to believe that only the person receiving the act of kindness was the one who benefited. Now we know that in addition to the person receiving the kindness, the person expressing kindness and anyone observing the act benefits in the same way. Scientific research has demonstrated that acts of kindness towards others result in a strengthened immune system and an increase in serotonin levels for both the person receiving and the person extending kindness. (Serotonin is that all-important substance that occurs naturally in our body and contributes to feelings of calm and peace.) More surprising, the benefits extend to anyone witnessing the act of kindness. Hence, the “ripple effect of kindness.”
Want to try it? Start by making a list of ways you might be kind throughout the week. Then choose one act of kindness each day. Notice how you feel as well as the reaction you get.
Here are a few simple ways to express kindness:
- Let someone go ahead of you.
- Greet the receptionist by name.
- Hold the door open.
- Pay for coffee for the next person in line.
- Smile at a stranger.
- Take a senior for lunch.
- Greet someone with kind words.
- Plug a person’s parking meter.
- Pick up a piece of garbage in a public area and take it to the trash.
- Volunteer to help someone.
- Send a thank-you note.
- Offer the seat next to you to a stranger.
- Surprise someone with flowers, a fruit basket or a box of chocolates.
- Bring a coffee to a colleague who is working late.
- Send a birthday or anniversary card.
- Offer to take some of the load from a colleague or staff member.
- Listen, really listen to understand.
- Donate blood.
- Invite a new member for coffee.
- Ask your supervisor how you can help.
- Share a kindness story with others.
- Hold a kindness day at work.
We never know when our act of kindness will have a profound effect. A smile, letting someone go ahead of us at the grocery till when they have just a few items, being present in the time we have with another person, making a phone call to check how someone is doing – these are simple but effective ways of touching another person’s heart. Acts of kindness are definitely a pathway to spirit at work. So, go ahead and find a way to make someone’s day, every day.
Adapted from my book Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters.
Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.