Geesh, does the world ever need this week.
The global phenomenon that is Random Acts of Kindness week is upon us: February 12-18, 2017.
We as co-workers -- nay, citizens -- get to extend hands and open our hearts to participate in wonderfully arbitrary acts of kindness all week long.
If the idea itself isn't enough to motivate you to participate, science tells us that you literally feel good if you engage in kindness.
Here are the top five reasons kindness can actually make you healthier:
1. Kindness fuels energy and esteem
Kindness produces serotonin which generates that feeling of calmness and even helps heal wounds. (Just like a Lionel Richie song!)
In one Berkeley study, almost 50 percent of participants reported feeling stronger and having more energy after helping others, with reports of greater feelings of calmness and enhanced self-esteem also predominant.
2. Kindness makes you happier
A Harvard Study showed that those who were altruistic and gave away money were, overall, the happiest.
And I thought that title was reserved for New England Patriots fans.
3. Kindness is good for your heart
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation reports:
Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, occasionally referred to as the 'love hormone' which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health.
Don't they say love hurts? Turns out the opposite is true!
4. Kindness helps you live longer
Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness; In Pursuit of Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, writes:
People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44 percent 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.
Finally, a guilt-free way to skip the gym.
5. Kindness decreases lots of bad stuff
Studies have shown that developing a habit of kindness reduces pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and blood pressure.
Chemistry plays a role once again. (No, not the Ryan Gosling - Emma Stone kind of chemistry).
People who practice kindness as a habit have 23 percent less cortisol (the stress hormone) and more of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels (thus lowering blood pressure).
So, it's pretty clear that if we're kind, kindness is kind to us.
Over the holidays, I shared 31 ideas to inspire you to commit your own random acts of kindness in the workplace .
If you've lost that loving feeling since then, here are 12 more ideas. These are some of my favorite suggestions from The City of Kindness, a coalition of organizations working collaboratively to inspire more kindness in the world:
- Put a surprise note or drawing in your spouse's or kid's lunch.
- Post a genuine compliment to three people on social media.
- Allow someone into your lane. They're probably in a rush -- just like you.
- Let the person in line behind you at the supermarket go first.
- Compliment your boss for something you admire but have never expressed.
- Write a letter of recommendation for a colleague.
- Forgive someone. And really mean it.
- Strike up a conversation with the person standing alone at a party/work function.
- Listen to a friend having a tough time -- without offering advice.
- Put money in an expired parking meter.
- Leave a thank-you note for your mail carrier.
- Don't gossip.
You can also whip up your own ideas using a kindness generator provided by The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
And don't forget the ultimate act of kindness: Share this article with your friends.