Scientific research proves that random acts of kindness can have a real impact on our mental and physical wellbeing.
There is a growing school of thought that helping others selflessly is good for you. So much so that in the US there is a Random Acts of Kindness Foundation which has inaugurated a Random Acts of Kindness Day to encourage people to consider various ways they could help their friends and neighbours. CNN’s coverage of this phenomenon references several research studies that show performing acts of kindness minimises stress, improves depression and lowers blood pressure. And “randomness” does not really matter – acts can be “anonymous or visible, spontaneous or planned, and can be as simple as giving a compliment or opening a door for someone”.
One of the first studies to focus on the impact of being kind on personal happiness was conducted by Japanese researchers in 2006. It asked participants to keep a record of their own kind behaviour towards other people every day for one week and measured their subjective happiness before and after. The researchers concluded that people appeared to have become happier simply as a result of counting their acts of kindness, and that “positive emotions may lead people to make and solidify new bonds and to develop optimism and senses of identity and goal orientation”.
Kindness is desirable in the workplace too, especially in light of the decrease in human connection brought about by the rise of remote work during the pandemic. When employees act kindly towards each other they facilitate a culture of collaboration and innovation, argue three organisational behaviour academics in the Harvard Business Review. Leaders can help promote kindness by making an effort to compliment and praise their team members and to set aside time during Zoom meetings for a “kindness round” in which team members are free to acknowledge each other’s work.