I was working at my desk, frustrated by a tedious project, when I thought I heard a tap at my front door.
I ignored it. It happened again. I ignored it. Three more times.
On the way to the mailbox a while later, I almost tripped over an bundle of carrots on the front step, complete with a note: Merry Christmas Bunny.
I later discovered that my next-door neighbor got way too many carrots in her grocery order, so she gifted my bunny with what was basically the equivalent of a six-month supply.
Her act of kindness was small, but it had a big impact.
Kindness Amid Chaos
If you’re thinking, yikes, now she’s going to tell me that doing a small act of kindness will end the pandemic, save democracy, and make my life stress free, spare me already, I get it.
I’m not here to tell you that a single act of kindness is going to heal the world.
It’s going to take way more than one kind act.
But here’s what a single kindness can do: it can fuel both the giver and the receiver to better navigate life’s inevitable challenges.
And a whole bunch of single acts of kindness strung together – an uprising of kindness – just might go a long way toward healing the world.
Better to Give Than to Receive
In a workplace study in Spain, people were asked to be deliverers of kindness, by performing acts of kindness for colleagues, or be receivers, counting the number of kind acts received from coworkers.
Who do you think benefitted more, the givers or the receivers?
Surprise! The adage turned out to be true in this study, since, while the receivers of kindness did become happier, the deliverers – the givers of kindness – benefitted even more.
The participants who performed kind acts for others experienced more happiness, less depression, and boosts in both job satisfaction and life satisfaction.
There was also a ripple effect in which the receivers of kindness were likely to pay kindness forward, thus becoming deliverers as well.
Which is pretty important when you figure that, if we were all waiting around for someone to be kind to us, it wouldn’t take long for acts of kindness to go the way of civil debate over, well, just about anything.
So notice the kindness you receive, but do kind things for others, too.
Snippets of Kindness
Wait, I’m stressed from the chaos in the world and exhausted from way too many Zoom meetings. I don’t have the time or the energy to add a whole new project to my life.
Take a breath.
It’s easier than you think to inject your days with snippets of kindness-giving.
- Be intentional about letting someone go ahead of you in traffic. Bonus points if you were really in a hurry.
- Look the cashier in the eye and smile (behind your mask, of course) and mean it when you say “have a good day.”
- Ask a coworker how their day is going and really listen to their response.
- If there’s a spoiled house rabbit in your neighborhood, you could even leave extra carrots on their doorstep, but greens would be even better.
An Uprising of Kindness
It’s no secret that we’re living in incredibly challenging times.
And that it’s going to take way more than snippets of kindness to solve our really big problems.
It’s going to take getting excited and being uncomfortable, learning and humility, listening and acting, holding internal boundaries and working relentlessly for social change, and doing it poorly and trying again and getting better at it, over and over and over.
I believe it’s also going to take an uprising of kindness.
Let’s get started.