The perfect prescription for happiness

Random acts of kindness

Let’s get high together—no drugs required.

It’s time to kick those February blahs in the backside and give ourselves a lift. Valentine’s day is over, yet it’s not too late to enhance our lives with the spirit of the season. We don’t even have to have a significant other or spend a dime, and what I’m about to suggest is proven to lift your spirits and improve your health.

Random Acts of Kindness Day is Friday, Feb.17, tucked strategically into Valentine’s week each year. The seeds of the random acts of kindness movement were sewn more than 40 years ago as the brain-child of San Francisco Bay writer and activist, Ann Herbert. It has spread globally and expanded over the years.

Even as I write this column, I feel a smile spreading across my face and my spirit’s lifting as I imagine a wave of goodness spreading through many lives, including yours. I’m planning, and feeling, the joy inside my body and mind.

I personally don’t reserve my RAKs to February because the benefits of performing such acts are too great to miss out on. They’re like a magic elixir for our health and wellness. Myriad research supports my claim, as random acts of kindness:

• Reduce stress

• Reduce anxiety

• Reduce depression

• Reduce body pain

• Reduce loneliness

• Reduce blood pressure

• Improve heart health

• Increase happiness

• Enhance healing

• Improve energy and confidence

• Increase life-span

Performing random acts of kindness benefit our lives in so many ways. Planning or performing them activates our own internal pharmacies of beneficial hormones and neurochemicals. It causes the secretion of beneficial hormones serotonin and oxytocin, as well as endorphins, while reducing the stress hormone, cortisol.

Serotonin is a natural antidepressant that increases happiness, a sense of calm, and also supports healing of wounds. Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, reduces blood pressure, enhances heart health, and promotes feelings of love and connection.

Endorphins reduce stress and pain, and act like natural opioids in our bodies. They increase feelings of well-being. The high experienced is called a “helper’s high,” which results from the activation of the brain’s pleasure and reward centres and the flood of beneficial body chemicals.

Performing random acts of kindness can rewire our brains and reset our body chemistry for the better, as the performances 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, causes a positive shift inside us.

Some fun random acts of kindness ideas are:

• Texting at least three people and tell them you love and/or appreciate them. That instantly lifts another persons spirit and he or she knows you’re thinking about them.

• Sharing sincere compliments or a kind word with people you meet.

• Sending a handwritten card or note to a friend. I even decorate mine with stickers.

• Leaving notes with kind words on a co-worker’s desk.

• A simple smile, or holding a door for someone.

• Creating positive bookmarks and leaving them at the library.

• Letting someone go ahead of you in a line.

• Letting someone merge in traffic.

• A thoughtful phone call to let someone know you’re thinking of them.

• Connecting with your bank teller and asking them about their day.

I remember reading about a merry group in Kelowna a couple of years ago who surreptitiously placed positive notes around a grocery store. It brought so much joy, it made the news.

I’ll bet the people involved feel some of that “helper’s high” reflecting on that kind act.

As research into the benefits of random acts of kindness continues, encouraging such acts is being considered as an intervention to support mental well-being. They help rewire our brains and reset our body’s chemistry for the better. It’s the perfect prescription and it’s free of negative side-effects.

So, make kindness the norm.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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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.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress 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 44 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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