According to Leo Buscaglia, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
A kind act gives aid and a benefit to another. It is a favor, a courtesy, an act of charity.
Acts of kindness can be large, such as volunteering regularly for a non-profit, or small, like these everyday opportunities . . .
- Smile at someone
- Say “hello” to a stranger
- Let someone have the better parking space
- Give your seat to someone who needs it more
- Help someone get something that is out of their reach
- Hold the door open for a stranger
- Leave a really good tip
- Visit a shut-in
- Stop at the scene of a breakdown or accident to make sure everyone is all right.
- Be courteous, say “please” and “thank you.”
Some consider kindness so powerful that they claim it as their guiding philosophy. The Dalai Lama has said that “There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.”
Kindness is best when it is truly an act of generosity, done without expecting anything in return. Ideally, you have kindness as one of your core values and you perform acts of kindness simply because it is the right thing to do.
However, as often is the case, doing right benefits you in unexpected ways. According to many scientific studies, acts of kindness can make you healthier, happier and more successful.
Let’s look at what the studies show about “the power of nice.” These are some of the ways you benefit from doing acts of kindness.
Kindness Makes You Happier
If you want to be happy, be kind.
Most of us know that from experience. When we do something kind, we feel better, happier.
For example, a 2008 study by scientists from the University of British Columbia showed that spending money on others was a sure-fire way to make yourself happier. The study found that those who spent the most money on others were the happiest and that those who spent the least were the least happy.
Another study, involving a sample of Japanese women, found that simply counting their acts of kindness made the participants happier. On top of that, 80% reported that the feelings stayed with them for hours and sometimes even days after their acts of kindness.
Kindness Makes You Healthier
Studies show that kindness actually makes you more healthy.
Allan Luks, the former executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Health and executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New York City, studied kindness and documented his findings in his book, The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others.
Luks studied more than 3,000 volunteers of all ages at more than 20 organizations throughout the country. Based on his research, he saw a clear cause-and-effect relationship between helping and good health.
There is even evidence that kindness helps you live longer. A 2005 study done in California discovered that frequent volunteers had a 33% lower risk of dying than people who did not do any volunteering and that people who volunteered sometimes had a 25% lower risk of death.
A 1999 study done by the Buck Center for Research in Aging, in California, found that those who volunteered for two or more different organizations had a 44% lower death rate than those who didn’t do any volunteering.
Kindness Makes You More Successful
Many studies have shown that happiness leads not only to a higher income but also to more energy, better health, a longer life span, a more satisfying social life, more confidence and a higher quality of work.
Most people believe that these things are what makes us happy, but most of the evidence suggests that it’s the other way around. When we feel happy, these things come to us much more easily. Happiness, studies show, comes first. And kindness promotes happiness.
Kindness Enhances Your Sense Of Well-Being
How you treat others affects your self-esteem and your sense of well-being.
Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a a community group. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, as linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
Another 2008 study found that those who “volunteered my time,” “gave money to a person in need” or “listened carefully to another’s point of view” were happier, more satisfied with their lives and had a greater sense of well-being than those who “had sex purely to get pleasure,” “bought a new piece of jewelry or electronics equipment just for myself” or “went to a big party.”
A Surprising Benefit Of Kindness
Would you be surprised to learn that kindness makes you more attractive than good looks?
That is the conclusion of a large, international study which found that, in all cultures, when asked what they would most prefer in a mate, kindness was the number one quality for both men and women. It beat both good looks and financial prospects.
Pay It Forward
Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? It felt great, didn’t it? It made you feel valued and it may have restored your faith in humanity.
Why don’t you give that same gift to someone else today?