5 Surprising Benefits of Being Kind

Post for the Kind Kindred series.

An elderly woman in Massachusetts made the news last month, and no one even knows her name. The anonymous woman, known as the “layaway angel” walked into her local toy store and paid off $20,000 worth of merchandise on layaway.Within minutes, over 150 customers were told their merchandise was paid for – all because the woman said it would “help her sleep better at night.” She simply wanted to be kind.The moment I heard this story, I resolved to be more kind myself. Maybe I didn’t have $20,000 to give, but I could at least do something small – one act of kindness a day for a month. So that’s what I did.

The journey was easier than I expected and more rewarding than I imagined. It’s one we all should take, and I’m here to share five compelling reasons why you should begin that journey today.

1. You’ll gain happiness and friends.
Acts of kindness are scientifically proven to make you happier. When you do something kind, your body releases the chemical oxytocin – the same chemical released when you fall in love or hold a puppy.
Kindness makes you more likeable too. You don’t need a rocket scientist to tell you that people want to be friends with happy and selfless people. One study, for example, found that children who performed three acts of kindness a week were bullied less and gained more friends than those who did not.

2. It only takes five minutes — or less.

I know your schedule, to do list, relationships and job are vying for your attention. Even for the busiest people, however, spending five minutes on a small act is possible.

Write a letter to a friend.
Share a conversation or a meal with a homeless person.
Leave an unusually large tip for your waiter.
These few minutes spent thinking of others lead to long-lasting results.

3. The results are instant.

The saying “all goods things take time” doesn’t apply to the results of kindness. While it often takes weeks to break a bad habit, months to lose weight and years to get that raise or job promotion, happiness from kind acts happens instantly for both you and the receiver.

4. Kindness breeds more kindness.

The customers who had their layaway items paid for responded with their own acts of kindness. Some bought merchandise for other customers; others donated the money they saved to charity. The culprit? A phenomenon known as the “pay it forward” effect. The “pay it forward” effect is well-documented and scientifically-proven. One drive-through in Canada experienced 226 consecutive drivers paying for the meal of the person behind them – all because of the first driver in the chain. Studies have also found that people are more likely to act kind after observing or receiving an act of kindness.

5. Anyone can do it.

No special degree, age, career or status is required to be kind. While certain things in life seem unreachable due to your limitations, there are no limits for being kind.

The “layaway angel” didn’t have special qualifications for being kind – other than the resolve to do it. Kindness is nonexclusive, giving all of us the same opportunity to begin practicing it at any time.

So, how will you act kind today? I promise it’s worth it.


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