How Random Acts of Kindness Impact Your Mental Health

impact of kindness on mental health

In a time when the world seems dominated by hate, many are wondering not only whether kindness exists but whether it is even worthwhile. As the saying goes, “nice guys finish last,” so why should we bother being kind and considerate to our fellows when we only stand to lose?

However, research shows that kindness has a quantifiable impact on the world around us. Even small, random acts of kindness improve individuals and groups in demonstrable ways. We should absorb the following evidence of the impacts of kindness and act with more compassion every day.

Kindness Decreases Stress

Stress has a seriously detrimental effect on the mind and body: Prolonged stress can cause physical pain, such as headaches, muscle tension, and chest pain, as well as mental anguish. Stressed people tend to feel more worried and less motivated, and they find it harder to maintain control of their emotions and behavior, often participating in negative actions like overeating, abusing substances, or withdrawing socially.

According to a study published in Clinical Psychological Science, people who perform more acts of kindness throughout the day tend to end their day feeling happier and less stressed than those who keep to themselves. Thus, we can improve our mental and physical health by being kind to others throughout the day.

Kindness Increases Relationship Satisfaction

It’s natural to gravitate toward people we like, and it makes sense that we like people who are kind to us. Yet, many people seem to miss the connection between performing acts of kindness and establishing close relationships.

To many, being kind to another person feels like being weak or perhaps being pitying, but the opposite is true: Kindness demonstrates emotional strength and forges and fortifies bonds between individuals. Instead of being cold or rude, we should smile and hearten everyone we meet, including our loved ones, so we may feel more satisfied in our new and existing relationships.

Kindness Shapes Our Future

A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology demonstrates that a single act of kindness is likely to be passed on from one person to the next, creating a positive feedback loop that changes the world around us. By experiencing kindness, we feel gratitude, and we wish to spread that feeling to others as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

By being kind, you serve as an inspiration for others, and your actions reverberate around your community in myriad positive ways. Further, children who grow up in kind environments are more likely to spread kindness as they grow, increasing the chances of a kinder future.

Kindness Takes Many Forms

There isn’t one right way to be kind. We can integrate kindness into our lives by making random acts of kindness into habits or by organizing random kind events.
Here are a few suggestions to help us all become a little more kind:

  • Send handwritten letters. You can send them to friends and family near or far, or you can send them to active service members, extended hospital patients, or prison inmates.
  • Lend your umbrella. When it rains, you can help someone else stay dry.
  • Make a big donation. If you can’t afford to make a monetary donation, you can donate something of value for just as much impact.
  • Compliment others. Instead of just thinking about how much you like that woman’s shoes or that man’s hat, you should tell them.
  • Approach outcasts. The homeless, the elderly, the disabled, and others often suffer from social isolation. Merely sitting near them or speaking to them is showing kindness.
  • Bring food. If you can’t bake or cook, you can buy treats for your co-workers, neighbors, or folks on the street.
  • Learn others names. You might pass by the same person every day without knowing his name, let alone who he is. A name is a first step to a relationship.
  • Share your hobby. Whether you paint landscapes, play guitar, train your body, or write silly stories, you can share your joy with others.
  • Listen. Instead of interrupting, instead of offering solutions, you should lend a sympathetic ear.
  • Break up gossip. You can often dispel malice with a single nice word.
  • Be kind to yourself. You are your worst critic. Instead of focusing on your flaws, you should write down three sources of self-pride every day.

How to Encourage Kindness in Children Infographic
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