Random acts of kindness

I’ve been in a bit of a slump. I don’t like it.

That inner sense of irritability, wanting the world to go away, and the desire to withdraw from life doesn’t happen very often for me. When it does, I don’t enjoy being in my own skin.

People seem more annoying, traffic feels slower, every-day problems seem bigger, and the committee of negative critics in my head wants to call extra meetings.

My thoughts grow negative and darker.

It would be easy to blame the outside world, and others, for my state of internal affairs, but I know I’m the common denominator.

I am the only one who can change it, and thankfully, I have some tools.

When irritation starts to build, one of my favourite tools for pulling myself out is Random Acts of Kindness (RAK). Even thinking about and planning them causes a shift in my mind and body.

RAK don’t have to be big. Simply doing something nice for someone without being asked, and with no expectation of a return, is a random act of kindness.

The ways we show kindness don’t have to cost anything, and can be as simple as:

  • holding a door open for someone
  • letting someone in in traffic
  • paying for the guy’s coffee behind you at Tim Horton’s
  • plugging a parking meter for someone else
  • sending a kind text to a friend.  
  • There are so many ways to show kindness.

Beyond thinking of RAK as just wearing rose-colored glasses, they are a topic of interest in the scientific and psychological world today, as researchers delve into the benefits.

While recipients of kind acts benefit in a variety of ways, we don’t have to wait for them to happen to us. The greatest effects are experienced by those who perform such acts: (https://positivepsychology.com/random-acts-kindness/)

  • Reduced depression and  anxiety
  • Increased self-worth & happiness
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased sense of personal connection
  • Reduced stress hormones
  • Decreased blood pressure & heart rate
  • Increased heart health
  • Decreased pain
  • Increased cognitive function
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Increased energy

We can rewire our brains and reset our body chemistry for the better, as acts of caring find their way into our brains and bodies. Successful people are found to incorporate kindness into their lives.

Even planning future acts, or recalling past acts of kindness, cause a positive shift inside us.  

While no one else even needs to know about the kindness you’ve extended, benefits are experienced by people who merely witness such acts being performed. They are uplifted and more likely to extend kindness to others, compounding the effects.

Recently, I was inspired by a woman, Karen Otway, who gave me a lovely necklace. When I thanked her, she told me she keeps such gifts tucked away in her bag to give to people who touch her life, or seem in need of a boost.

She lit up from within as she told me about her habit.

Others, including me, receive the benefits of her kindness, but clearly, she does as well.

As research into the benefits of RAK continues, encouraging such acts is being considered as an intervention to support mental well being.

There’s a Random Acts of Kindness Foundation you can visit to learn more about the benefits, as well as receive ideas to inspire you.  

Nov. 13 is World Kindness Day, but don’t wait until then to utilize this simple, yet powerful practice.

Let the wave of kindness begin.


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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