You may be having a more positive impact on the world than you think. A recent study found that most of us underestimate the difference that our random acts of kindness make.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin studied a variety of situations involving small gifts and favors. They asked the givers and the recipients to rate the effects on the recipient’s mood on a scale of 1 to 5. In each case, the recipients gave higher marks.
For example, volunteers who gave away a cup of hot chocolate predicted an average emotional boost of 2.32, but the recipients scored it at 3.55.
It turns out that the warm intentions behind such acts matters more than their modest scale. Plus, caring really is contagious. The recipients were more likely to continue spreading kindness around after someone reached out to them.
You may not have a lot of money or a solution for climate change, but your generosity can do amazing things. Try these ideas for committing more random acts of kindness.
Kind Things to Do at Home
When you have a lot on your mind, it’s easy to start taking your family for granted.
Develop habits like these that remind them how much they mean to you:
1. Do more chores. It may not sound as romantic as sending flowers, but taking out the garbage is one way to show your appreciation. Focus on supporting your partner, rather than keeping track of whose turn it is.
2. Cook favorite meals. Make family dinners even more special. Surprise your loved ones with fancy desserts or simple macaroni and cheese.
3. Listen to your kids. Bond with your children by paying attention to what they have to say. Ask them about their opinions and interests.
4. Call elderly relatives. Stay in touch with your aging parents and grandparents, especially if they live alone. Help them create social media accounts or get set up for video calls. Write them letters with recent photos included.
Kind Things to Do at Work
You spend about one third of your life at work. Cultivating friendships makes that time more enjoyable and satisfying.
Try these tips:
1. Be inclusive. Encourage others to participate in meetings and take on new responsibilities. Celebrate their successes and invite them out to lunch.
2. Promote others. Help others to get the recognition they deserve. Write recommendations and make referrals. Acknowledge their efforts and provide specific feedback.
3. Reduce stress. Lighten the mood at work with appropriate humor. Bring in donuts and organize fun outings.
Kind Things to Do Anywhere
Opportunities for giving surround you anywhere you go. The more you practice, the more you’ll recognize them!
Consider these ideas:
1. Let others go first. Let someone else go ahead of you in line or take the closest parking spot. Enjoy the look on their face.
2. Make small talk. Start conversations at coffee shops and train stations if a stranger seems receptive. Give a friendly greeting and talk about your common experiences. Even brief interactions can make you feel more connected.
3. Hand out compliments. Let someone know you admire their talents or fashion sense. Tell a neighbor that their rose bushes look fantastic. Ask an acquaintance where they got their hair cut.
4. Pick up litter. Plogging started in Sweden and caught on worldwide. It’s a fitness trend that combines jogging and collecting garbage. If you prefer to walk, you can still bring a plastic bag, gloves, and a pick-up stick along with you.
Make your life more joyful and meaningful. Use your words and actions to spread kindness and compassion. Even small gestures make a big difference.