I have to admit up front that I swiped information for this blog from a great flyer my realtor sent out this month. Several times each year she provides ideas to make one’s community better. This time she says her data came from several sources: (Scientific American, Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science, and Psychology Today.)
Kind actions are said to brighten the day of the person who receives the benefit, and also the giver. Doing good will make you feel good, and boosts the health of both giver and receiver. Also, people who volunteer live longer than those who don’t.
I was particularly impressed by a list of ten acts of kindness a person can do for free. I consider most of these “paying it forward”.
1. Hug your loved ones, and always take the opportunity to tell them you love them.
2. Hold the door open for the person walking behind you.
3. Offer your seat to someone on the bus or train who looks more tired than you.
4. Write a note of praise to the manager of someone who has helped you, such as a waiter, waitress, helpful flight attendant, or customer service rep who solved your problem.
5. Write something funny, kind or inspiring on a sticky note and leave it somewhere unexpected, such as the inside of a library book, or mirror in a public restroom.
6. Rake or mow your neighbor’s lawn.
7. Clear the snow off the car next to yours in the parking lot.
8. Visit the local senior center or nursing home just to spread good cheer.
9. Pat the shoulder of someone who looks upset, and offer encouragement.
10. Smile at strangers, and say “hello”.
These seem remarkably easy and many I’m sure most of us do automatically and that’s good. Some other facts on the flyer listed the generosity of volunteers: 65% of households give to charities. 65.1% do favors for their neighbors. 73% have helped a stranger. In general, Americans spend 7.85 billion hours volunteering. (Amazing)
“Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” –Scott Adams.
Another list of ten acts of kindness purportedly all cost $10.00 or less.
1. Put change in someone else’s parking meter.
2. Pay for the coffee of someone behind you in the line at the coffee shop.
3. Buy a few extra groceries and drop them off at the nearest food bank.
4. Pay the toll of the car behind you.
5. Give a homeless person a large plastic bag with a bottle of water, a couple of granola bars, a packet of tissues, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
6. Send a handwritten note and a small memento to a friend or family member you haven’t spoken with in a while.
7. Offer your change when the person in front of you at the register is short of cash.
8. Buy an inspirational book for a friend who needs encouragement.
9. Buy a dozen daisies or sunflowers to give to a co-worker or a stranger on the street.
10. Surprise a friend, co-worker, or loved one with their favorite beverage or snack.
Some of these suggestions may mean we have to step out of our comfort zone, but according to the studies named above, you will benefit from something called: “helpers high”. It’s a release of two powerful mood boosters: dopamine and endogenous opioids.
Since we are in the season of giving I decided to pass on these ideas. Can you think of other helpful things to do that cost little or nothing except for perhaps a bit of time?