When You Do Random Acts of Kindness – YOU Benefit!
We all know that we should be kind to others. But life is busy, we have things to do, places to be…. And sometimes it’s difficult to consider others.
But you should. Because although others benefit from your random acts of kindness – amazingly, you’re the one who benefits the most!
Let’s look at why it’s so beneficial to you to be kind to others, and then I’ll give you some examples of things you can do – my personal favourite random acts of kindness ideas.
Of course, when you do good deeds for others, you get a nice warm, fuzzy feeling, don’t you? In fact, you get a lot more than that.
Random Acts of Kindness Benefit #1: Slows Aging
Well, what’s not to love about this one! That warm, fuzzy feeling you get is from a feel-good chemical called oxytocin, which is shown to reduce free radicals in your body (free radicals damage cells). Yes, you can look and feel younger when you are kind to others!
Random Acts of Kindness Benefit #2: Better Health
Now this is really interesting! A 2013 study looked at people who thought more about their own needs, and compared them – from a health point of view – with people who helped others more. The results were astonishing!
- Those whose happiness was based on buying things and doing things for themselves, suffered more from chronic inflammation, which leads to heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
- But people who do a lot for others, had far lower incidences of illness.
It’s almost as if people with a sense of service to others are rewarded by their bodies! Scientists believe that this could be an evolutionary strategy of working for the common good.
Many developed countries are losing this sense of “the common good”. In the US for example, individualism is highly prized, but that is not case in many parts of Africa (although this is changing).
Random Acts of Kindness Benefit #3: Less Pain
Along with oxytocin, endorphins (your body’s natural painkillers) are also released when you do random acts of kindness. And this is fascinating – when you take acetaminophen (a paracetamol painkiller), studies show not only a decrease in pain, but also a decrease in empathy and compassion. Wow!
Random Acts of Kindness Benefit #4: Less Stress, Less Anxiety
People who regularly do good things (e.g. care-giving, volunteer work, working with animals or regularly doing small random acts of kindness) have almost a fourth of the amount of cortisol — aka the “stress hormone” — circulating in their systems compared to people who don’t help others much.
Wow – 75% less stress – isn’t that incredible? And all from doing good!
Anxiety is also reduced – and it doesn’t matter exactly what kindness you do. Whether you donate $1,000 or compliment a stranger, anxiety is reduced after random acts of kindness.
Note though that the kind act needs to be done for its own sake – if you feel coerced or if you do it for personal benefit, the same benefits do not accrue.
Random Acts of Kindness – Ideas
Random acts of kindness can take so many different forms – it’s wonderful to be able to choose from so many! Some will cost money, some will take time – and others will cost you nothing at all!
And – even better – you know already that living green means living in better harmony with Nature and not abusing the planet. And so random acts of kindness dovetail perfectly with a green and ecofriendly life!
Because one of the tenets of green living is “do no harm”.
Kindness and green living are both about making the world a better place to live in.
So, here are 101 ideas – you’re going to find plenty you’ll love. I’ve started with those that will not cost you anything – they are free, gratis and for nothing.
Random Acts of Kindness – Free
We all love free – so here are some great ideas. You’re going to find lots that you love, and can do regularly.
- Carry groceries or help someone elderly or infirm at the supermarket.
- Smile (a genuine smile) at a server / waitress / bus driver.
- Bring a neighbour / teacher / friend /family member a simple gift – some wild flowers you’ve picked, their favourite food item, a handmade card, an invitation to join you for an outing (e.g. coffee), some fresh fruit….. anything you think they’ll enjoy.
- Phone a friend – just to say hi, and catch up.
- eMail or video (e.g. Skype) distant family members and keep in touch.
- Say “thank you” with a smile – and mean it.
- Reach out to someone who haven’t spoken to for a while – perhaps you’ve had an argument – is it time to move on?
- Is there someone in your neighbourhood who needs help with grocery shopping or gardening / yard work? Can you pile leaves / remove snow / mow the lawn for them?
- Donate your clothes to a charity or a thrift shop.
- Leave kind words on a rock and leave it in a park by a path
- If you’re in a line or queue, let someone go ahead of you.
- Donate food to a food drive
- Hug someone
- Sponsor a child
- Write a list of things that you love about someone – and give it to them.
- Serve at a homeless shelter
- Do a sponsored walk or run for charity
- Make breakfast in bed for someone special. Or make a lovely meal for someone.
- Help the planet – ride a bike or walk to work or school or take public transport.
- Help at an animal shelter – walk dogs, help animals to socialise
- Donate your Christmas gifts to an orphanage or charity.
- If you’re planning a big event like a party or a wedding, keep it simple. Don’t waste money and the Earth’s resources on “stuff”. People will remember warmth and enjoyment, not things.
- Don’t buy flowers for a wedding or funeral. Cut flowers are not ecofriendly. Especially at a funeral, ask people to donate to a charity instead of wasting money on flowers that will soon die.
- Be nice online. Don’t criticise, encourage.
- For one whole day – or one week – don’t complain. About anything.
- Give up something you enjoy for one month and get your friends to sponsor you. Then give the money to charity.
- Walk the dog for a neighbour.
- Plant a tree – at least once a year.
- Give your umbrella to a stranger who doesn’t have one.
- Babysit for free.
- Has someone new just moved into your neighbourhood? Welcome them with a simple gift, and give them a tour of the area so they know where everything is.
- Learn a few phrases (like Hello) in different languages and greet people accordingly.
- Snap a photo for a family or a couple.
- Wash someone’s car.
- Teach a child to ride a bike.
- Mentor a child
- Compliment friends and family
- Fundraise for an animal / wildlife organization
- Read to kids for story time.
- Help out the janitors or cleaners at school or office.
- Tutor (for free) a student who is struggling
- Help animals find a home.
- Don’t buy bottled water. It’s lousy for the environment. Tap water is miles cheaper (and you don’t have to carry it home). If you don’t like the taste, use a water filter.
- Help sick animals get treatment.
- If you read and enjoyed a blog post, leave a nice comment. It’s really encouraging for the blogger.
- Feel tempted to buy something? Talk a walk outside instead. Postpone the decision. If you still need the item after 48 hours, reconsider.
- Are you on LinkedIn? If you know someone, endorse a skill or leave a positive recommendation.
- Supporting local businesses is green, ecofriendly and helps your local economy. Leave a good recommendation online or elsewhere for local businesses that you like.
- Hold a teddy bear drive and donate to a local children’s charity.
- Compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is (if he or she is, of course!).
- Be polite on the road. Let others in ahead of you, be patient, be nice.
- If you’re eating out, try to avoid big chains. Support local businesses who care about your community.
- Donate used books to a library or school.
- Reminisce. This is especially important with older people. They have wonderful memories of a life so different (because things change so fast) and few people are interested. Take some time and really listen to their memories, ask questions to draw them out.
- Reminisce with a family member – shared memories help you bond (and highlight differences in your experiences).
- Drink water instead of sodas or soft drinks. It’s better for your health, and kinder to the environment.
- Going on holiday? Send people a postcard – it’s lovely to get a hand-written note!
- Laugh often. Make others laugh. It’s good for you.
- Reduce the amount of meat you eat. Factory farming is horrible for animals and lousy for the environment. At the very least, have one vegetarian day each week.
- When you do eat meat, try to avoid factory farmed produce (here’s how).
- Make a hand-written card for someone. There doesn’t have a be a reason or special occasion. It’s “just because”.
- When planning a holiday, consider a “staycation“.
- Donate used towels and blankets to an animal shelter. Ask them what else they need, and provide it if you can.
- Buying coffee or a take-out meal? Bring your own reusable cup or containers. Take-out containers have toxins in them, and single-use disposables are horrible for the planet.
- Feed the birds in your area. You can use a bird feeder, or just put seeds outside for them to find. So many birds are killed due to pesticides, buildings, cats and more – they need help!
- Plan your errands so you can do them in clusters. You’ll use less fuel and help the planet.
- Reduce your paper use. Use the backs of paper, use etickets instead of printed, don’t print something unless you really need to.
- Hang your clothes out to dry if possible instead of using a drier. Solar drying is free!
- If you do use a dryer, follow these tips to be more efficient.
- Stop junk mail. Recycle what you do receive.
- Bring reusable bags when you go shopping (it only takes a short time to make it a habit).
- In winter, turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees and wear more warm clothes. You’ll save energy and the planet.
- In summer, if you use air conditioning, turn it up a few degrees and wear less clothing. You’ll get used to it really quickly.
- Pay your bills online instead of making a trip.
- Got a once-off event? Borrow what you need, or buy second-hand. (Why waste money (and the Earth’s resources) on something you’ll only need once?).
- Going to fly somewhere? Check if there are alternatives to flying. Or get carbon offsets.
- Cloth diapers or nappies are much more green than disposables. They’re also safer for baby, and better for the planet.
- Switch off electronics when you go to bed or leave home. TVs, computers and gadgets all consume energy.
- If you’re a teacher or a manager, teach your students or staff about random acts of kindness.
- Buy less “stuff”. You don’t need the “latest” gadget that’s 1 millimetre thinner or has one extra feature. Keep your current stuff, reuse.
- Cook meals at home instead of getting take-out or eating out. It’s kinder to the planet.
- Switch off all electronics when you’re eating your main meal, and try to eat it together with the whole family. Use the time to actually talk, chat, catch up on everyone’s day, and bond.
- Set up recycling bins wherever you have space. Separate plastic from paper etc (it’s easy when you have separate bins or bags).
- When you are buying, choose options with less plastic packaging.
- If you don’t feel well, consider natural remedies first before automatically reaching for medication.
- Eat more fresh vegetables. They’re good for you – and the planet.
Random Acts of Kindness – A Little Money
Yes, these kind acts will cost you little – but not much. Try some of these occasionally.
- If you notice that a stranger’s parking meter is about to expire, put some coins in.
- If you’re buying food, look around. Is there someone there who looks like they need a good meal? Buy something for them – but don’t let them know who you are.
- Pay for a stranger’s library fees.
- Plant a few herbs (you can grow them on your windowsill).
- If you have space, plant some vegetables. It’s ecofriendly, you avoid the toxic pesticides on store-bought produce, and nothing beats the taste of your own harvest!
- Sponsor school lunches for an under-privileged child.
- Support a wildlife organization.
- Pay someone’s bus or taxi cab fare.
- If you’re at a veterinarian and someone looks like they’re struggling to look after their pet, pay for their treatment (but don’t let them know who you are).
- If you see something small that you know someone really loves, but they’re not close by, buy it and post it to them.
- Want a new pet? Adopt, don’t shop. You can get pretty much whatever breed you want – adopted pets give just as much love (if not more) than bought dogs. And you’re helping to reduce the problem of unwanted dogs. And you’re saving a life!
- If you have a lawn, consider replacing it with wildflowers or a veggie patch.
- If you’re buying coffee or a movie ticket, buy one for the person behind you, or leave money with the cashier for someone who needs it.
- Is there a “waste” area in your neighbourhood? Buy some seed balls and plant wildflowers or fruit trees.
- Be an informed buyer. Choose food that’s less processed and more planet-friendly, and read the labels. If you need to buy a new gadget, don’t look only at features, check if it’s green too.
When you do random acts of kindness, it’s not just others who benefit. You also help improve your own health and reduce stress. And it’s easy with these 101 great ideas!
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