February 14-20 was Random Acts of Kindness Week. Did you have any idea? I’m impressed if you did because I was completely unaware that it has been a thing since 1995. A small non-profit organization in Colorado started this awareness day before it spread internationally. At any rate, the entire premise is to get people involved in committing acts of kindness—randomly for the benefit of spreading a little joy around.
Altruism, the practice of selfless concern for others’ well-being, is considered an innate characteristic of all humans. This is supported by the 90 million people who reportedly volunteer their time and resources to charitable acts yearly. I’m sure if you think back (and you probably don’t have to go that far back), you’ll clearly recall a time where you gave up your seat on the train for the elderly person or the visibly pregnant lady; paid the bill for the car behind you at Starbucks; or even served food at the local shelter. Have you noticed that most companies allot for volunteer hours? For those unfamiliar, this is time that you are technically on the clock but allowed to leave work to give time to a worthy cause.
Typically, when I finish volunteering or giving back in some thoughtful way, I feel…up. It’s that warm and fuzzy sensation that accompanies goodness. There is research that suggests that being kind to others releases endorphins that causes one to feel better. While random acts of kindness should result from pure motives, the reality is there are significant benefits upon completion. Happiness and improved well-being are linked to demonstrating compassion towards others. Other gains include longer life spans, stress-reduction, and improved emotional wellness.
And friend, while you are out here randomly acting kind to others, please don’t forget to be kind to yourself! We often fail to prioritize time to simply reflect or relax on where we are currently and all that we’ve overcome. I permit you to unplug from social media to treat yourself to something small. One of my sisters loves flowers, and baby girl will buy her some right along with her regular groceries. And really, why not? You’ll find me dancing and singing regardless of the embarrassment of Handsome (my 12-year-old son). The point is, while you work to bring a little piece of happiness to someone else through your kind act, don’t neglect yourself in the process. The call to action for this week is to go and be kind; you’ll thank me soon after.