While everyday should be World Kindness Day, the holiday officially falls on November 13. First celebrated in 1998, the purpose of World Kindness Day is (well) to spread kindness. “The mission of the WKM [World Kindness Movement] is to inspire individuals towards greater kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world,” the group’s website states. But why kindness? Well, because we are all connected. What you give others, you get yourself. Spreading kindness also fills your cup. It is human and humane.
“Kindness creates connectivity, helping us to relate to others and have more positive relationships,” Kristin Francis — an adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Huntsman Mental Health Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City — tells Scary Mommy. “The act of being kind boosts empathy and improves our overall mood, and kindness has even been shown to decrease our feelings of stress. By being kind, you also help others feel better which in turn helps them respond in nicer ways towards others they meet, creating a chain reaction of positivity.”
“In addition to creating a more cohesive community and enhancing connectedness, there are also physical health benefits to practicing kindness,” Francis adds. “When we are kind or think kindly towards others, a cascade of physiologic changes occur in our bodies that improve our well-being and over physical health. These health benefits have been found in the giver as well as the recipient of the kindness.” In short, being kind isn’t just helpful, it is healthful. It is good for our mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
But how can you celebrate — today and every day? Make a difference with these ideas.
- Compliment three people today. From remarking on their bag or shirt to a job well done, find a way to compliment three people today.
- Pay it forward. Want to give a little love — and then some? Pick up the tab for the person behind you in line: at the cafe, drive thru or in the grocery store.
- Write a handwritten note to your child’s teacher — or your teacher. Teachers are special human beings. They give selflessly to our children five days a week. So surprise them today with a handwritten note. A little kindness goes a long way.
- Volunteer. From soup kitchens and church to your child’s school, volunteering is a great way to give back. It also connects you with members of your community, which is a real win-win.
- Spread digital love. Leave a positive note on someone’s Facebook page or endorse them on LinkedIn.
- Donate to a charity. Visit charitynavigator.org to find a worthy cause.
- Tip big. Restaurant servers and delivery drivers live off their tips. Make today extra special with a big tip.
- Put change in a parking meter. This little act of kindness goes a long way.
- Buy a stranger a cup of coffee. The best part of waking up is a free coffee cup.
- Send or deliver a meal, particularly to someone in need. They say food is the quickest way to someone’s heart, but a warm meal also has the power to soothe the soul. Give the gift of food to someone you know or, better yet, a stranger in need.
- Hold an elevator. Whether you are at the office, mall, or in a hotel, holding the elevator is a simple but sweet gesture.
- Open the door. Another simple, straightforward, and very kind act.
- Pick up trash from the street, grass or sidewalk. Because without a healthy Earth, there isn’t a healthy anything.
- Let someone go ahead of you in line. Most of us are in a rush, to get somewhere, see someone, or do something. So let someone jump ahead of you in line. Bonus points if that someone is a parent with a screaming kid.
- Yield that primo parking spot to someone else. You know that feeling you get when you find the perfect parking spot? Yeah, us too. Let someone else experience the joy, exhilaration, and thrill.
- Give up your seat on the bus, train or subway. Is the bus crowded? Perhaps your subway car is standing room only. Just offering your seat to a stranger can make their day.
- Donate toys or books. You can also donate old clothes, glasses and/or phones.
- Become an organ donor. Giving the gift of life is the ultimate act of kindness.
- Donate blood. Because your donation can go a long way.
- Take time and write a review for a restaurant or business you love. Do you adore your neighborhood coffee shop? Are the baristas super courteous and sweet? Let them know.
- Take care of yourself. It should go without saying, but kindness starts from within. Self-love is vital to your overall happiness and health. So treat yourself today: to a manicure, pedicure, long walk, or bath. Write a letter to your future self, one which is full of adoration and love, and applaud your accomplishments. You are worthy of compliments, too.
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