In the midst of a crisis like the current COVID-19 Coronavirus we see the best and worst in people. There are some wonderful acts of kindness that are happening around the world that are lightening the weight of the epidemic. Closed schools are offering curbside meals to needy students and their families, athletes are offering compensation to low wage workers in their sports venues and in Ireland grocery stores have set up dedicated shopping hours for the elderly. Jahmal Cole and his group “My Block, My Hood, My City” are stepping up for seniors in need in Chicago. He is organizing meals to be delivered to home-bound seniors. I just received an email from someone in my neighborhood group that she will do grocery shopping for anyone who needs it in the area. So beautiful. Strangers who care and put themselves at the service of others.
Companies are even getting in on the wave of kindness. Christian Dior perfumes started making hand sanitizer, a car parts company is starting to produce hygienic masks, and luxury hotels are becoming makeshift quarantine shelters (Wall Street Journal- March 20,2020)
A recent study out of Oxford University reported on how people felt after performing or observing kind acts every day for seven days. Happiness was measured before and after the seven days of kindness. The researchers found that being kind to ourselves or to anyone else — yes, even a stranger — or actively observing kindness around us boosted happiness. The more acts of kindness performed, the higher the experience of personal happiness!
Not surprising that kindness is good for us physiologically! Seems it boosts our love hormone! Yup- just witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. Oxytocin allows us to feel more connected, increases our self-esteem and optimism. Kindness also increases our serotonin levels. This feel-good chemical heals your wounds, calms you down, and makes you happy. Other studies show kindness increases our level of energy and our lifespan.
What can you do?
Do one random act of kindness several times a week to brighten someone’s day. Here are some suggestions:
- Take a vase of the spring flowers from your yard to a neighbor
- Drop food off to a senior
- Call a different friend once each day just to encourage them
Take the 30-Day Kindness Challenge. Living in close quarters with family members for an extended period of time can make each of you a bit irritable. Author, Shaunti Feldhahn, developed an intriguing experiment she calls the 30-Day Kindness Challenge. To help people experience the benefits of kindness in their close relationships, she recommended they do three things over the course of 30 days. You might try it!
- Say nothing negative about that person – either to them or about them to anyone else.
- Each day find one positive thing you can praise or affirm about that person and tell them and tell someone else.
- Each day, do one small act of kindness or generosity for them.
Shaunti’s research shows that 89% of relationships improve as a of engaging in the challenge, even though the effort is unilateral!
Exercise your kindness muscle. Muscles don’t just happen. It takes some intentional weight training to build up your strength here. Colossians 3:12 says we actually have to “clothe ourselves” with kindness (it’s not our natural go-to reflex!) We aren’t wearing it yet, so we have to put it on. “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
To be kind, we need to practice kindness. Extending patience when someone doesn’t hear us, and we have to repeat ourselves is kind. Bringing someone something they need before they ask is kind. Doing a chore that usually falls to someone else is kind. Having a soft tone of voice when you’re frustrated is kind. It’s not easy, but then neither is building strong muscles. But so good, for ourselves and the others in our life.
Please reply and share “random acts of kindness” that you enjoy doing or that have made a difference in your family, neighborhood or community!