Updated: Jul 24
Can you think of a time that a friend, coworker, or acquaintance did something kind?
Maybe they surprised you with a cup of your favorite iced tea.
Perhaps they came in on a busy Monday morning and brought donuts for everyone within the office.
It could be that they held the elevator doors open for you while you hurried from the other side of the room.
While the above are hypothetical situations, focus on your own memory.
Looking back, how did that make you feel?
Given that you can remember this event—wouldn’t you say that this kind act made an impression on you?
With all the events going on in the world, you may be unaware that Random Acts of Kindness Week falls on February 14th - February 20th. Like its name entails, the week is a celebration of kindness and compassion for others. This week—given current societal circumstances—is especially more important than ever.
While you—hopefully—may be familiar with the emotional component of kindness, these changes can be seen biologically. Serotonin is an example of one prominent neurotransmitter believed to be involved in orchestrating physical processes associated with kindness.
It may seem strange to believe, but researchers have investigated the potential of kindness and kindness-based practices as a therapeutic intervention. For instance, loving-kindness and compassion meditation is a form of a mindfulness-based intervention. In fact, studies have shown that the use of loving-kindness and compassion meditation in conjunction with alternative forms of therapeutic interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can potentially be helpful in alleviating symptoms of individuals living with psychiatric conditions. Aside from its potential reducing symptoms associated with mental illness, it is also believed that this practice can be beneficial for those that may be suffering from burnout.
Studies have also looked at the efficacy of loving-kindness and compassion meditation among minority groups. For instance, one study found that among African American women, loving-kindness meditation was one of the types of mindfulness-based practices that can be used to cultivate compassion and promote further wellness. Similarly, there is evidence suggesting that performing kind acts can increase one’s life satisfaction.
Thus, it's evident that performing kind acts is reciprocally beneficial to both the giver and receiver.
At the present, approximately 40.9% of adults within the United States reported suffering from symptoms associated with mental illness as of June 2020. The pandemic has brought about numerous obstacles for individuals. Furthermore, I’ll end by giving you this challenge:
What are some additional ways you can incorporate kindness within your life and the lives of those around you beyond this week?