There’s nothing quite like a kind word or gesture — however small or fleeting — to lighten a load and brighten the moment. Even momentary instances of graciousness and civility foster positive connections and better well-being, whether they involve people you live or work with or complete strangers.
Small Effort, Big Results
My dad has Alzheimer’s. This past month has been especially draining for me and my siblings as we navigate this time with him. We’re so thankful for the generous kindnesses from healthcare workers — the registrar who made cheerful small talk; the medical assistant who gently explained (again) what she needed Dad to do and why; the sleep tech, a Navy veteran, who immediately put him at ease as they swapped military stories.
They’ve felt like sunshine bursting through rain clouds. Nobody can solve what we’re facing, but each moment of grace and patience brings a bit of joy and makes life more bearable for a time. I’ve been reminded, in a palpable way, that we all walk around with unseen wounds, grief, and other stressors — yet a little kindness can have a meaningful, uplifting impact.
We all yearn to experience and witness more kindness. Recent research highlights simple ideas for integrating it into the hustle and bustle of daily living — so we can, individually and collectively, increase positive emotion and spark a ripple effect with the goal of a gentler world. Here’s a sample:
- Performing acts of kindness for 7 days, to ourselves and our strong or weak social ties, measurably increases happiness. Plus simply observing these acts has equally beneficial effects.
- Recalling kind acts we’ve done is just as effective for boosting well-being as actually doing them.
- Offering genuine compliments provides both giver and receiver a substantial lift. Yet researchers find that we often hesitate to give compliments out of worry about how they’ll land — a concern discovered to be highly unfounded.
- Helping others informally offers more well-being benefits compared to formal efforts (such as a group volunteer event); this finding underscores the value of seemingly minor acts of kindness.
Making a Difference Every Day… Anywhere
We all need kindness just like we need food and oxygen. And wherever we happen to be, we can do our part to scatter more of it, each day:
- Leave an encouraging note
- Send a handwritten card or letter
- Give a compliment
- Admit you were wrong
- Make an introduction
- Complain less
- Listen more
- Read a book to a child
- Express gratitude/appreciation
- Take a self-compassion break
- Give a small gift
- Offer to help
- Flash a sincere smile
- Hold the door.
Got 2 minutes? check out The Science of Kindness video from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
Well-being consultant, educator, writer ｜National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach ｜Certified Lifestyle Medicine Coach｜ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist ｜25+ years in wellness ｜Jazz enthusiast.