November 10-16 is Kindness Week and November 13th, that’s today, is World Kindness Day.

Some people have jumped right onto the Kindness bandwagon. We see stories every day of random acts of kindness, unexpected philanthropy and the wonderful, surprising effects are still widespread. I am thrilled that kindness is finally getting covereage. Yet, it’s obvious to anyone who watches the news that not everyone in the world is being kind.

Margaret Mead said,

“Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

I think that the kindness movement in all it’s various forms is proving Margaret Mead right. Certainly one can argue it isn’t happening overnight, most impacts appear small (but appearances can be deceiving), it will lose momentum and much more. Truthfully, I’m not sure that even matters. What matters is that it is working, that change is happening, and that it isn’t dependent on government, location, gender, religion, beliefs, prosperity or anything other than people wanting to make a difference, and taking the first, often very small steps to do so. That’s all anyone has ever asked really. It’s all that anyone ever had to do.

A penny on it’s own seems insignificant and valueless, but 100 pennies together make a dollar. Maybe 100 small acts of random kindness create a miracle; maybe it only takes one. We’ll never know, unless we start with that first act.

So, whether you are on the bandwagon or not, I propose a kindness experiment to honour this week of kindness.

Wait! Don’t run! This kind of experiment is lots of fun!

It’s really quite simple. I thought of it after reading this fantastic article about a more complex kindness experiment done in Vancouver, BC, Canada. It’s a really good read (yes, you should read it). In brief summary, the results showed people were happier if they chose to be kind to other people, even more so when a connection was made and the highest rate of happiness occurred when they saw a positive impact happen. For example

  • Receive $5.00 to buy coffee for self – increase in happiness
  • Recevie $5.00 to buy coffee for someone else – even happier than when spent on self
  • Recieve $5.00 to buy coffee for someone else, and you join them (and buy your own coffee) – ultimate happiness achieved.

Starting to see the pattern? Taking all other things into consideration (well as much as possible) showing kindness, and having the connection to the act resulted in the most satisfaction all around. So here’s my simplified version of the experiment (and it is anything but scientific).

Part I
First, do some random act of kindness every single day, at least one act. Here are some simple suggestions:

  • Give your spouse, child, mother, significant other, sister, brother a big hug and tell them you love them.
  • Open the door for the person behind you
  • Help someone carry their groceries to their car
  • Smile and say hello to everyone you meet
  • Put change in parking meters
  • Help a parent struggling with little ones (it can be as chatting or opening a door or grabbing a grocery cart)
  • Pay for the person’s coffee behind you
  • Shovel your sidewalk and your neighbours too
  • Do the dishes
  • Hang up your coat
  • Do something that you always get nagged about BEFORE you get nagged

At the end of each day take some time to see how your happiness level is, and take time to really think about how you felt after doing the act of kindness. What impacted how you felt?

Part II
To make it a little more interesting let’s take it up a notch. Sometime during the week (and it’s already Wednesday) give $5.00 (or more or less depending on your situation) away to someone, anyone. Don’t think too much about it, just do it. They don’t have to be financially in need necessarily, maybe they just look sad, maybe they’re the next person you meet. Maybe you know them, maybe you don’t. At the end of the day think about how you feel, did the experience change your outlook on the day, beyond?

Later this week (and yep, it’s still Wednesday already), take someone out for a beverage (or lunch or show, again it’s up to you but keep the value spent on the other person about the same as in Part II a.) and join them for whatever you’ve chosen. At the end of the day assess your feelings and happiness level again. Were you happier than when you just gave away the money?

What else about the experiences affected your happiness for better or worse, and why?

To review the researchers’ findings: happiness from being kind and giving is maximized when:

  • Kindness is a choice

  • A human connection is made

  • An impact is apparent from the act of kindness

The relationship between happiness and kindness; sometimes it’s the little things we do that add up to huge returns in the end. Start investing in kindness today and watch your happiness, grow and grow.

If you’re still not sure about the benefits of kindness, here’s a 2 minute short video from Life Vest Inside that is really good at explaining just how important kindness can be to our own state of health.

If you’re up for it, please share your experiences on our Facebook page or in the comments section. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing with everyone feel free to share it with a friend, or message/email me.

Yours in kindness always and all ways.

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