In today’s world, being kind isn’t as common as it should be. Many people shrug off compassion in favor of material growth and surface-level success. We are often too busy with the hustle and bustle of daily life to take the time out for random acts of kindness. It’s sad!
But what if you found out that being kind isn’t just something you do for others. What if it were something that can help you, too? What if compassion could dramatically alter your world in ways you may not have thought possible? Here are 9 powerful ways random acts of kindness can change your life.
1. They Reduce Stress
When you are kind to others, you divert your brain’s attention onto other people for a time. This is a form of pro-social behavior or behaviors performed to help others, and it can create bonds in what is known as affiliative behavior.
Pro-social behavior has been known to have tremendous positive effects on stress levels, helping people to cope with different stressors in life. It’s actually been studied numerous times, each time coming out on top for reducing stress impact and even aiding in the management of more balanced emotional function.
Meanwhile, affiliative behavior has its share of benefits, too. You’re forming a close bond and creating good feelings within you from feel-good hormones and pride in your actions. That’s why altruism is often cited as a way people find happiness and even health!
2. Random Acts of Kindness Boost Heart Health
Yes, we’ve all heard about how your heart can feel “warmed” when you perform acts of kindness for others. That feeling is compelling for those who aren’t expecting it and are genuinely moved and touched by it. But your heart actually isn’t just warmed. You also physically help it.
You see, random acts of kindness produce a positive hormone in the body known as oxytocin. This feel-good neurotransmitter works further by facilitating the production of more nitric oxide in the body, particularly in the blood vessels. This means that those vessels are dilating with the nitric oxide or expanding. This results in:
- Better circulation
- Better transportation of nutrients throughout the body
- Reduced blood pressure
As a matter of fact, despite being most commonly only associated with positive thinking, oxytocin is also often considered a cardioprotective neurotransmitter – that’s how effective it is! So adding acts of kindness to your day can boost cardiovascular health in surprisingly helpful and healthy ways!
3. Your Perception Of Life Changes
It’s a little cheesy to think about, but your performance of random acts of kindness changes your life most profoundly by changing your perceptions and views of the world around you. Think about it: random acts of kindness are unconditional, selfless, and non-obligatory forms of love and care, given without the intent to receive in return. This gives you a subconscious chance to:
- Acknowledge the existence of selfless goodness in the world around you, whether from you or for others
- Spend increased amounts of time considering additional acts of kindness that you can continue to perform, therefore spending less time and negativity
- Remove some of the jaded skepticism that may linger in your brain about the authenticity of generosity or altruism
- Regard your relationships and bonds with more respect and love while spending more time thinking positively of them
- Accept kindness from others as you realize that everyone could use a hand or even just a smile sometimes, and you’re in a better position to receive
- Feel more hopeful and create purer intentions in your everyday life, potentially shifting your attitude and values for the better
In addition to those subtle perspective shifts, you can’t quite remove yourself from the equation when you act kindly. There’s something special about realizing that your actions have brightened someone’s day. Indeed, it can make the world seem much less bleak. It elevates you into a place of positive thinking!
For some reason, when you give to others as an act of love, you naturally receive love feelings. It’s quite an interesting phenomenon, as your emotions respond most positively when you make others happy. This means loving others gives you the sense of being loved – and that’s not just a subjective statement, either.
In fact, a study entitled “Reflecting on acts of kindness toward the self: Emotions, generosity, and the role of social norms,” published in 2012 in The Journal of Positive Psychology, found several interesting facts about how emotional responses from kindness can increase this aspect. You will:
- Feel more loved
- Feel in awe of acts of love
- Become more optimistic
- Experience more positive thinking
- Achieve better self-esteem
5. They Reduce Anxiety
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time along its wide-ranging and complex spectrum. You might get a little nervous sometimes, or you might have severe panic disorders, or you may fall in between the two extremes. Whatever the case is, it’s unlikely that you’ve never felt anxiety in your life, ever.
A study entitled “If it makes you happy: engaging in kind acts increases positive affect in socially anxious individuals,” which was conducted by the University of British Columbia and published in the journal Emotion in 2013, revealed that kindness might be an effective way to manage such anxiety.
The research conducted in a randomized control trial indicated that low positive effect is typically associated with anxiety, especially of a social kind. Positive affect, in this case, can be defined as positive experiences of alertness, interest, happiness, joy, and so on.
But here’s the kicker – researchers then found that those who performed acts of kindness were able to enjoy a much higher positive affect occurrence in just a month! Even small random acts of kindness helped significantly, reducing their social anxiety in the long run.
6. They Improve Relationships
This is a fairly obvious point to consider. When you are kind to those in your life, especially when it’s not expected, you’re creating a stronger bond with them. Relationships that would have gone stagnant or drifted apart are instead strengthened when you take the time to be kind to the other party – and, chances are, they will reciprocate your kindness, leading to an ever-increasing bond.
Kindness is a part of human nature, believe it or not. It’s hard-wired into our systems. After all, our ancestors who came before us needed to work together to survive, and the more bonds they formed, the better their chances of managing the difficult life of the olden days.
Though we no longer need to group up to survive the harsh outdoors and a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, humans still build connections through cooperation. Be kind to the people around you, and they’ll be kind in turn, and your connections will grow and grow!
7. They Can Increase Your Productivity
Kindness can benefit you in somewhat surprising ways. If you’re looking to be more productive, try being kinder to people who you work with – and if you’re in a leadership position, start encouraging more kindness among those working beneath you.
A study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior in 2008, called “The Contours and Consequences of Compassion at Work,” indicated that the act of enforcing compassion as part of office culture could lead to increased productivity. Several reasons for this can be concluded logically, such as employees who: