Killing It With Kindness

WARNING: Kindness is contagious, habit-forming and has serious side effects.

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Photo: Christin Hume
Photo: Christin Hume

Kindness is contagious and habit-forming and has serious side effects. Prolonged daily use leads to compassion, empathy, and unlimited well-being. Symptoms may develop immediately after exposure. Proceed with care.

  • Kindness is an instant connector.
  • Kindness is anti-aging.
  • Kindness is viral and highly contagious.
  • Kindness is intoxicating.

We are wired for kindness. It’s in our DNA. Without it, we couldn’t create communities or form the strong, fulfilling bonds that keep us connected. Kindness is also contagious, spreads like good news and is highly intoxicating, which is why we love it so much. Oh, and it’s a proven anti-inflammatory that is linked to anti-aging benefits. Could this be any better? Wait, there’s more.

According to research from Emory University, performing acts of kindness tickle the brain’s pleasure and reward center as much as if the good deed was done to us too, not just to the recipient. Clever, that. This soft, fluffy, endorphin-fuelled feeling is colloquially known as the ‘helper’s high’. You can thank dopamine for this, which, in fact, did us a solid by making kindness addictive. So not only is kindness an instant connector but it makes us look good and feel tipsy good? Not a bad CV.

What’s more (oh, yes, there’s more), a 2005 study of random acts of kindness, proves it reportedly takes a minimum of just one good deed a day to increase our satisfaction levels.

Need some inspiration? Choose a random act of kindness from the list below and start spreading the compassion contagion!

Say something positive (online): It takes zero conscious awareness to click ‘like’ on a social media post. It takes a bit more attention, however, to leave a genuine comment. Not much for the PDA? See it as an anti-trolling device: it’ll annoy the hell out of the haters.

Be the coffee fairy: Spot someone their morning latte in the coffee queue behind you. Paying it forward can feel weird but, if in doubt, remember: no one turns down free coffee. It’s like putting Baby in a corner – totally uncool and punishable by the ghost of Johnny Castle.

Stealth cake-drops: Imagine waking up one morning to find a pile of pain au chocolat on your doorstep. That, in my sweet-toothed opinion, is the dream! On that note, why not leave an anonymous box of baked goods for a neighbor who could use some sweetness in their day? P.S. I am open to donations.

Pay a compliment: Everyone loves a compliment. Granted, we’re not the best at accepting them (‘This rag? I found it in a dumpster behind some crime scene tape’), but everyone enjoys an ego boost. When indulging in praise, opt to sprinkle rather than shower. No one wants to be soaked in obsequiousness, especially if it’s by someone you don’t really know.

Give stuff away: Job-lot it online. Give it to charity. Donate treats for digs, like spare mattresses and toasters, to students in need of a dig-out. It’s a good excuse to clear the psychic cobwebs and do a well-needed declutter. Do good. Feel better.

The takeaway? Kindness is more of a muscle than a virtue and can be improved with regular exercise. The more small acts of kindness we share with others, the stronger our human connections and the more balance we give to our lives, not to mention all the feel-good memories we create.

The more positive memories we can create, the greater our capacity for feeling connected. Mindfulness in action! Who’d have thought it could take something so small?

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