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Who Are Random Acts of Kindness for Anyway?

Published in Behavioral Health Services, For the Health of It Author: Community Health & Wellness Specialist Melissa Pribyl, MSN RN

Often, we think we’re doing random acts of kindness (RAOK) so that someone else’s day can be better. But little do we know, we are doing even more for our own overall health and wellness. By doing a RAOK for someone else, we can increase our own happiness for up to two weeks! This great benefit to our well-being and resilience is so worth it.

Many of us are used to doing RAOK as part of our daily life, but we might not have known about the increase in our own happiness as our kindness unfolds. These small gestures to make the world a better place can have a great impact on our ability to handle challenging days. As we share kindness in our communities, we increase our ability to weather the storms that life hands us, handle the shortage of staff at our workplace, be patient for the supplies that we’re waiting for and, perhaps, increase our ability to see the positives around us.

When we do a RAOK, the hormone oxytocin is produced in our body. This is often called the “feel good hormone” and is released when people hug or shake hands or do things like a RAOK. As we continue to share kindness in our communities, we can also increase the level of social connections and civic engagement along the way.

RAOK don’t have to come with a price tag. A kind note, a beautiful drawing, watching children for free, raking the neighbors’ leaves or sharing some treats you baked yesterday are all perfect examples of kindness that comes from the heart. We all have the ability to share kindness in this manner, we just have to take time and make the effort to do so.

So, I encourage you to get out and complete some RAOK this week. Do it for you and, if possible, please involve the young people in your lives, as setting an example and modeling this behavior has a great way to produce the next generation of resilient people!

Studies report that Random Acts of Kindness also can:

  • Decrease anxiety, stress and depression
  • Protect your heart and improve your immune system
  • Diminish pain perception

What Random Act of Kindness might you do this week? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Give an unexpected compliment
  • Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger
  • Send flowers to brighten someone’s day
  • Write a thank-you note to your mail carrier

Get more Random Acts of Kindness ideas and learn about the Bounce Back Project.