So last month, I’m sure most of you know, I did a big project where I challenged myself to do one act of kindness a day. And while some of these acts of kindness were small, the overall project itself was pretty big. For some people, it might seem overwhelming to take on that much, and that might true. Some days during the month of August, it was certainly overwhelming for me.
But just because you may not be ready to do some large project like I did doesn’t mean you can do even small acts of kindness. There acts of kindness even smaller than the smallest ones I did in last month’s challenge that can still make a huge impact. Things like giving someone a compliment, smiling at a stranger, letting a car in in front of you in traffic, holding open doors for people, giving another person your parking spot, being kind to the cashier, server, or customer service representative on the phone, say good morning to people, say something nice when you overhear people gossiping about someone, pick up trash (this doesn’t have to be a big affair, just pick up a couple pieces if you see it), connect a charity to your Amazon account, let someone go ahead of you while you’re waiting in line, return the shopping cart you see out in the parking lot…I could go on and on.
The point is, you don’t have to have a ton of money or ton a time to be a good person. You must want to be a better person, and you must look for little ways like some of the ones I mentioned above that you can do that, but that’s all. You have to emphasize with people. You have to treat them like the human beings they are. You have to want to leave people and places better than you found them. But that’s all. And it doesn’t take a six figure salary or all the time in the world to volunteer. It just takes kindness.
A recent study in Psychological Bulletin found that kindness positively contributes to your overall wellbeing. While this study is helpful, this is something I feel like I knew from anecdotal experience even before looking at the study. Being nice to others and helping others, just makes you feel better. And while you should do kind things because you want to help others and not because you want to make yourself feel better, it’s also nice to know that it can boost your mood too.
So this is my challenge to you: go out tomorrow and try to have patience on your commute to work and maybe even let a few people in in front of you, tell your co-workers good morning, smile at as many people as you can, give genuine compliments to as many people as you can, hold open doors, be nice to those in customer service positions, even those on the phone, pick up some trash in the parking lot as you walk to your car…and just see how the world around you starts to change, how you even start to change. It is easy to be cynical, especially in the times we are living in, but we must remember, if we don’t like the situation we are in now, we are the ones who can change it. Even small acts can change the world.