Random Acts is an organization built on the belief that there is power in kindness. As it says in our mission statement, we want to conquer the world one random act of kindness at a time, and we are here to inspire and facilitate those acts, both big and small. But did you know that acts of kindness are not only beneficial for the person receiving them? Science has explained just how kindness impacts the brain, and how happiness and healing can come not just from being shown kindness, but by showing kindness ourselves.
When browsing through our Kindness Stories or Childhood Hunger Acts, there is one sight that weaves its way through just about every story – giant smiles! Whether it is those receiving kindness, or those giving it, being kind brings joy and connection to everyone involved. Why is that?
Being kind to others, especially without expectation of anything in return, gives us far more than a passing feel-good moment. Engaging in acts of kindness can actually impact our physiology in a number of positive ways. Within the brain, helping others can lead to production of oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin helps us feel more open and connected to others, while boosting optimism, self-esteem, and even lowering blood pressure.
Kindness can also lead to the production of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters which both impact mood in different ways. Serotonin works to stabilize mood, and increasing its levels can help calm us down and make us happier. Similarly, dopamine pings the pleasure and rewards center of the brain. This can lead to feelings of accomplishment, and what is often known as the “helper’s high.” Individuals who routinely perform acts of kindness tend to experience less physical pain, lower stress levels, and even live longer.
Finding ways to take care of ourselves is always important, especially in times of uncertainty and instability such as these. Showing kindness to others is an act of connection and community, reminding us that we are all in this together. It is also a statement of hope, taking action towards building a world that we want to live in. As Princess Diana once said, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”
Ultimately, while the very act of doing good for the world around us is also doing good for ourselves, the physiological boost experienced by a single act likely will not last long. People who experience long term positive impacts from kindness acts tend to be those that weave kindness into the fabric of their lives, being routinely altruistic, while also prioritizing balance and giving only as much as they can. Choosing kindness can become easier over time, just like any habit. It can also have a ripple effect, inspiring others around you to be kind as well. But remember, not every act of kindness must be herculean. To experience these benefits, we do not have to save the entire world – just make it a little bit kinder.