I was standing in line at a popular convenience store early one morning. The line was long as bleary eyed folks were grabbing a quick breakfast on their way to work. As I got closer to the cash register I noticed the guy behind me looked particularly stressed. Fidgeting with his keys, looking up over my shoulder at the line ahead as if that gesture alone would magically shorten it. When we finally made it to the cashier I said, “please include my friend’s coffee and bagel on my tab”. My fidgety line mate’s first reaction was to protest my Random Act of Kindness. “No, no…he said. You don’t have to do that”! “But I would like to do it if you don’t mind”, I replied. With a big smile on his face he said “Thank you”! His stressed look had disappeared and he no longer seemed rushed. In fact, he and I, exchanged pleasantries on the way to our cars. He shook my hand, thanked me again and promised to pass my R.A.K. on to others. As I got into my car I recognized how great I felt. I was happy and even proud of myself. I couldn’t imagine he could feel much better than me and he was the recipient of the random kindness. It made me think…could the simple act of being kind make us happier? Turns out, it can!
Kindness is defined at an act of selflessness or a behavioral response of compassion where we put our self-interests behind the needs of others. In a recent article in Psychology Today Dr. Shoba Sreenivasan and Linda Weinberger wrote, “Why do random acts of kindness increase a person’s sense of happiness? Because kindness can promote gratitude. When you are kind to others in need; having that awareness then heightens the sense of your own good fortune. Kindness promotes empathy and compassion; which in turn, leads to a sense of interconnectedness with others. When we practice Random Acts of Kindness It releases an energy. We feel better and the recipients of our acts feel better, which then makes them more likely to be kind to other people” (read the full article here)
I love the thought of a simple act of kindness releasing energy that makes both the recipient and giver happier and creates a continuum of goodwill. This can be a daily ritual we commit to in order to build positive and healing energy for all but with the express purpose of making us happier.
Remember we can practice our way to happy!