Offering kindness is a simple but effective gesture to help others get through these challenging times—and it can help you, too. Researchers found that kindness releases mood-lifting brain chemicals that help lower stress, create emotional warmth, increase self-esteem, protect your heart, improve health outcomes, and can even help you live longer and be more successful! The benefits work best if kindness is repetitive. Here’s how to make it a habit.
Just smile. Smiling releases the feel-good brain chemicals—plus, it’s contagious! People have a built-in response to copy facial expressions, so you’ll likely get plenty of smiles back!
Give acknowledgement to everyone. This includes the service rep on the phone, doctor’s office staff, checkout clerk, and so on. Mention how you appreciate their service and attention. Or, leave little appreciation notes inside your kid’s lunchbox or on your partner’s windshield. Remember to call your folks, just to tell them you appreciate them!
Pay it forward. At the grocery store, leave your extra/unwanted coupons by the checkout for someone else to use. Let someone in line in front of you. On public transit, give your seat to someone who is standing.
Ask others if they need help. You may not be able to help at that moment, but just listening to someone’s troubles can do just as much good. Look for opportunities to reach out to others.
Donate what you can. This can be canned goods, towels to an animal shelter, money or your time—from walking a neighbor’s dog to volunteering to read to children or help with schoolwork via Zoom (check with your local library or school district). To volunteer or donate locally, contact the United Way, the Red Cross or visit https://www.volunteermatch.org
Take the high road when interacting with those you dislike or disagree with. Try asking them thoughtful questions or doing something nice for them.
Show yourself kindness. Forgiving yourself for your mistakes and not expecting perfection can help you become more empathetic to others.
Consider learning loving kindness meditation. Here, the focus is on generating compassion for self and others. For a guided session, visit: https://www.mindful.org/loving-kindness-practice-video/