Some might consider this article a cliché. We all know the importance of good deeds, and that it is nice to help old ladies carry their shopping bags. Yet, random acts of kindness are rare. When was the last time you received unexpected, genuine help or appreciation from someone? And how did it make you feel?
As a first-year student, my first exam season in university turned out to be more stressful than I ever imagined. It included lots of crying, sleep deprivation, skin breakouts, and homesickness. Going through mental pressure like that, away from my family and the friends who know me the best did not make it easier, and grew a feeling of loneliness within me.
However, during this time, I also experienced how the smallest, most random act of kindness can lift ten kilos off someone’s shoulders and spark the strongest feeling of gratitude.
One day, when I was up studying for an exam, my roommate came in with a cup of tea and my favorite snacks. She gave me a long, tight hug. All of a sudden, my heart became warm, my body felt lighter and my smile was bigger than it had been for the past couple of days. The feeling that she had seen me struggle, and wanted to make my life a tiny bit more enjoyable although she already had a lot on her plate, made my whole day.
Random acts of kindness are extremely effective serotonin boosts for both others and yourself. According to Psychology Today, Neuroscience has demonstrated that the act of giving is a powerful pathway to happiness. When you give, serotonin is released, which, among other things, promotes digestion, sleep, and memory learning. Oxycontin, also known as the cuddle hormone, is also released and promotes social bonding and empathy while reducing stress. It is also anti-inflammatory, as it reduces pain and promotes wound healing. Being nice to other people is therefore a part of being nice to yourself. Here are five quick tips on how to make someone’s day, and your own, with minimum effort.
1. Buy a friend coffee
While buying your coffee, make your friend’s day by surprising them with one too. You will leave them feeling appreciated and thought of, and they will think of you as a good friend. And the serotonin boost you will get when seeing their reaction will probably be even bigger than theirs.
2. Smile at strangers
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s too easy and efficient to not mention. Smiling to people around campus or on the metro demands zero effort and only has perks. Not only do you come off as more approachable and friendly, but it will likely boost your mood too. Humans can mirror each other’s neurons, meaning that we can mentally simulate an action ourselves when we see someone else performing it. Smiling is therefore really contagious, and has health benefits. So, next time, remember to smile at your concierge, classmate, or even a stranger in the grocery store.
3. Write and mail your loved ones a letter
With social media, written letters are vanishing as a communication medium. However, few ways of communication have a more personal or wholesome way to show appreciation than letters. Imagine the happiness your grandma will feel if she receives a letter in the mail from her busy grandchild! She will think about it all week and tell all her friends and your mom how happy you made her and how great of a person you are.
If physical mail is a little too obsolete for you, an e-mail also works. It is a fun and unexpected way to reach out to your friends and family.
4. Make your friend a playlist
Making someone a playlist can almost be considered a love language. It is a fun way to show love and thought to someone. Make a playlist for your friend that includes songs that you have shared memories of, or songs that you think they would like.
5. Surprise your friend the next time you visit them
This one will demand a bit more effort, and may be easier with a bigger group of people. However, it will be worth it.
Next time you go and see your friend, don’t tell them in advance and surprise them instead. It is however smart to schedule with some other friends to make sure that your friend is available. This is perfect for a birthday or some other occasion worth celebrating. You would be coming to see your friend either way, but making it a surprise will likely make them feel way more appreciated and thought of.
Some of these ideas are too easy to not go through with. We need more humanity and kindness in this stressful and worrisome state of the world. The Stork, therefore, challenges the reader of this article to do one of these things within the week. Watch the positive impact it will have on your loved one, and feel how the positive act affects your mood.