Article by Cecilia Relph, Reiki Master and Holistic Counsellor
Performing Random Acts of Kindness is a passion that I have held since my earliest memories. I think I was about 4 years of age when I first realised that doing something kind for someone else made me feel good! I have a very distinct memory of placing a flower from the garden on my grandmother’s pillow for her to find at the end of a long day….what a thrill for her and me!
You can imagine my surprise when one day I realised that “Random Acts of Kindness” was a real movement and not just in my head, with many followers, much research and many books written on the subject.
David R. Hamilton, Ph.D., is one such person who has devoted an entire career to the benefits of kindness; in fact Dr. Hamilton is a chemist who left a career developing cardiac and cancer drugs so that he could follow his passion. In his book ‘Why Kindness is Good for You,” he explains that performing a kind act releases oxytocin – this is a brain chemical that surges when you hold your baby or spend time with a beloved pet. It also temporarily lowers blood pressure.
Dr. Hamilton also believes that:
• Kindness can make a damaged heart regenerate faster
• Kindness and compassion alter the neural structures of our brains
• Kindness and gratitude can make you at least 25% happier
• Kindness is an antidote to depression
In other words, Kindness is literally good for your mind, body, spirit and heart!
Here are some of the ways I like to indulge my passion:
• Leave an inspirational book along with a message of hope to be found somewhere by just the right person (e.g. bus/tram shelter, doctor’s clinic, park bench etc)
• Feed the parking metre before driving off (although this is now getting harder to do as the old parking metres are being replaced with modern ticketed versions)
• Always look for an opportunity to open a door for someone
• Ask the person behind you in a cue to go first
• Step in with coins at a counter if you see someone fumbling for change
• Pay someone a compliment (only if you really mean it)
• Anonymously send someone who is having a hard time some cash along with a note saying that you don’t mind how the money is spent as long as it’s on themselves (type the note and the envelope and send from a suburb other than where you live)
• Leave a box of home baked goodies at the doorstep of a neighbour
• Cook a lovely dinner for new parents (or someone who has been ill), packaged nicely in a box and leave at their door (I like to ring the door bell and then make a fast getaway)
• If there is a homeless person in your neighbourhood or near where you work, take them a coffee and some sandwiches
• Drop off a bunch of flowers to a hospital desk and ask them to deliver to someone who hasn’t received any flowers