How a ‘random act of kindness’ could make your day

By on September 9, 2016

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a ‘random act of kindness’. Have you every gone to the assistance of someone who needed help…no one asked you to… it just felt like the right thing to do at the time. These days it is all too easy to hurry along, pretend you didn’t see that person who needs help – you are in a hurry, got a lot on your mind etc. Did you know that the positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone that witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve dozens of people’s lives!

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I came across a post on Facebook (link at end of article) about a guy in Tallaght who was approached by a homeless youth asking for money. Having refused him, he then did a u-turn on his decision, when he saw him looking for coins on the ground outside McDonalds. So he asked him if he would like a burger and he sat with him and chatted while he had his meal. He had hesitated about giving him the money initially, thinking it might be for drugs, but then realised that he was genuinely hungry. He listened to a very sad family story, while the well-mannered guy eat his meal. This ‘random act of kindness’ cost €6.99 and helped a young homeless man get through the day without being hungry.

“Kindness can jump-start a cascade of positive social consequences. Helping others leads people to like you, appreciate you, to offer gratitude. It also may lead people to reciprocate in your times of need. Helping others can satisfy a basic human need for connecting with others, winning you smiles, thankfulness, and valued friendship.” Sonja
Lyubomirsky,Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of California.

According to research from Emory University in USA, when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centres light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed-not the giver. This phenomenon is called the “helper’s high.” Did you know also that like most medical antidepressants, kindness stimulates the production of serotonin. This feel-good chemical heals your wounds, calms you down, and makes you happy.

Imagine a world where people look out for each other. Where we all pay it forward. Where success is measured in selfless acts. Where kindness is the philosophy of life. It seems like an impossible scenario, doesn’t it?

It is very inspiring to see that in Clonakilty, Co Cork, they hosted a ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ Festival. It is about people in a local community coming together and having fun, with lots of free events and includes Kindness Zones- public spaces around the town where kindness volunteers distribute some of the small token gifts donated by local businesses, cinema tickets, meal vouchers etc. This festival has been running for a few years now

Parents and teachers have a role to play to foster a “kindness” philosophy in our young people. Kindness can be taught. A researcher from the University of Wisconsin says, “It’s kind of like weight training, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”

helping-old-people-in community

What if, each of us, over the next week, did one thing, one small (or large) ‘random act of kindness’. You will feel good and if you are on the receiving end well its a ‘win win’ for you. Creating a caring, people focussed society, is about genuinely looking out for each other and it begins with each of us taking the initiative to do just that. So next time you see a person who needs help, don’t think, just stop and help them, you won’t regret it!

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees” Amelia Earhart

By Bernie Sexton, Editor Cafe Time

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