Random Acts of Kindness
“The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.” ~Maya Angelou (1928)
As many of you know, I am a believer in the magic of random acts of kindness. And those of you who know me well, know I don’t believe in anything that doesn’t have research to back it up. In the case of random acts of kindness there is lots of research in the field of positive psychology to suggest that when we give by doing something nice for a friend or stranger or help out in our local community that we accrue some significant benefits.
Why do people do good things? Is kindness hard-wired into the brain, or does this tendency arise via experience? Or is goodness some combination of nature and nurture?
Dacher Keltner, director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Laboratory, investigates these questions from multiple angles, and often generates results that are both surprising and challenging. He was interviewed in Scientific American about the findings he reports in his new book, Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life.
In that interview Keltner suggested that, “A new science of happiness is finding that these [positive] emotions can be readily cultivated in familiar ways, bringing out the good in others and in oneself.”
Keltner provides some “empirical” examples:
Meditating on a compassionate approach to others shifts resting brain activation to the left hemisphere, a region associated with happiness, and boosts immune functions.
Talking about areas of gratitude, in classrooms, at the dinner table or in the diary, boosts happiness and social well-being and health.
Experiences of reverence in nature or around morally inspiring others improves people’s sense of connection to others and sense of purpose.
Laughing and playing in the face of trauma gives the person perspective upon life’s inevitable difficulties, and improves resilience and adjustment.
Devoting resources to others, rather than indulging a materialist desire, brings about lasting well being. (In other words, random acts of kindness!)
I hope that you will practice some of these positivity generating activities. How about starting today? Join others in 26 Random Acts of Kindness in memory of the 26 victims in the school shooting in Newtown. I think you’ll be inspired by the stories of paying kindness forward. http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/26-random-acts-of-kindness
Share with us your random acts of kindness. We love to hear about your experience and you might inspire another of my followers to pay it forward too! After all, sharing is good for you…
P.S. Since everything is better shared, please share this blog link with your friends!
Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Board Certified Coach and an Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US. Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry. She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves. A MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment and Leadership to social work students at the University of Southern California.
On December 21, of this week I gave 26 fruit baskets to needy families. A young friend of mine and I delivered to each home and placed the baskets on the door step then moved across the street and acted like we were chatting until the baskets were picked up. It was so rewarding and helpful. Each one had a note in red and black on the bow, “In remembrance of Sandy Hook.”
Author Gary L Hamby
How lovely, Gary. How did people respond?
@DrLynnKJones The event was on the local TV and radio news and also in the local newspaper. However, I never stepped forward because it would have defeated my objective of giving without recognition. Those interviewed felt happy and blessed.
@garylhamby I’m sure they did! Positive emotions are contagious and you did a lot to start a positive contagion! 🙂
I am a big believer in gratitude and feel this is a timely post to start off the New Year! THANKS! JACKIE
@gethappyzone Hoping you have much gratitude and happiness in the new year, Jackie!
Random acts of kindness are a great thing, for the giver, the receiver, and everyone in between. Thanks for sharing this, especially this time of the year when this kind of thing is at the forefront of everyone’s mind!
@Calla Gold Thanks for reaffirming the value of random acts of kindness…. research shows that the greatest beneficiary may be the giver!
@DrLynnKJones That is awesome research! I love that the giver is the beneficiary of happiness by research. I’ve always felt the truth of that.
I was interested to see that meditating is a way to increase kindness and compassion. My prediction for 2013 is that meditation as a way to increase both physical and mental health is going to go mainstream. More and more research is coming out about meditation’s benefits – and I spent years being the most un-mind/body person around!
@KymberlyFunFit1 It is interesting how the recent research on the brain is confirming some ancient wisdom! Thanks for commenting.