Small Gestures, Big Impact: 7-day Acts of Kindness Challenge

13 Feb ‘23
5 min
Lifestyle
Arianna Freni
Gecontroleerd door Psychologist Clara Isabell Slawik
kindness
Imagine a world where every day is filled with small acts of kindness. A world where people smile at each other, strangers hold doors open for one another, colleagues bring each other coffee, and loved ones surprise each other with gestures of appreciation. It may sound too good to be true and probably, having such an expectation 24/7 wouldn’t be realistic. However, we do have the power to make a difference through kindness, at least partly and it is way easier than you might think!

 

In this article, we’re going to explore the many benefits of kind gestures and share practical ideas that you can apply in your own life. So, whether you’re looking for inspiration, motivation, or just a reminder of the good in the world, read on.

 

Easy as pie, contagious as yawning

 

Being kind is one of the simplest things you can do: It’s a natural human trait that doesn’t require much effort or resources and can be easily incorporated into our daily lives. Unlike other pursuits that may take a lot of time and planning, acts of kindness can be expressed in a matter of seconds while we are going about our day. 

 

For example, you can hold the door open for someone while you are waiting in line, offer a helping hand to a stranger on the street, or compliment a coworker for their hard work. These simple gestures can be done anytime and anywhere, and they don’t require any special effort or commitment.

 

“Being kind to others takes up the concept of ‘Social mindfulness’”, says psychologist Clara Isabell Slawik. “This is a specific form of kindness in which people consider other people’s needs and feelings before making a choice. It can be a subtle gesture that shows you’re being thoughtful of another person. Imagine you’re at a work party and there are three doughnuts left, two chocolate doughnuts and one with sugar frosting. By choosing the chocolate one, you preserve the choice for the next person.”

 

Kindness is not only easy, but it’s also contagious. We all know that feeling of warmth and happiness that comes from doing something nice for someone else. Whether it’s a simple compliment, a thoughtful action, or a selfless act of service, kindness not only has the power to brighten someone’s day, but also improves our own mental health. It’s a win-win situation where the giver and the recipient both benefit from the exchange. Whether it’s a small gesture or a grand gesture, the impact of kindness can be far-reaching and long-lasting.

Kindness x Mental health

Research has shown that performing acts of kindness can boost our mood, increase our sense of fulfilment, and reduce stress and anxiety. Kindness can also strengthen feelings of social connection and belonging, which is especially important during times of stress and isolation. Even cooler? Being kind also releases oxytocin, a chemical in our brains that makes us feel good and reduces anxiety.

 

💡 Read more about the perks of being kind according to science

Weekly Challenge

 

When you think of random acts of kindness, you probably don’t immediately think of how to do them. We got you covered! 

 

Here are seven easy and practical ideas to get you started during the Random Act of Kindness week (12-18 February) and help you incorporate more thoughtful gestures into your daily life 

 

1. Monday: Leave a Note of Encouragement for Someone

 

A kind word can go a long way in lifting someone’s spirits, whether a friend, family member or even a stranger. Write something nice down and leave it somewhere they will find it. You can also leave a note of appreciation for someone who has helped you, like a teacher, or a mentor – remember that expressing gratitude is a great way to value and acknowledge others (besides boosting your mood, too!)

 

Need some inspiration? Check these uplifting examples 

 

2. Tuesday: Pay it Forward

 

This can be as simple as buying a coffee for the person in line behind you or leaving a few extra coins in the parking meter for the next person. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, but a small act of generosity can make a big difference in someone’s day.

 

3. Wednesday: Offer to Help Someone With a Task or Duty 

 

Whether it’s an older neighbour who needs help with groceries or a colleague who could use a hand with a project, lending a helping hand can be a simple yet meaningful way to show kindness.

 

4. Thursday: Show Empathy Through Active Listening

 

Active listening can be a powerful act of kindness that can make someone feel heard and understood. By fully focusing on the person speaking and giving them your undivided attention, you can offer a safe and supportive space for them to share their thoughts and feelings. Taking the time to listen can mean a lot nowadays. 

 

“I often experience clients feeling very grateful to have someone who actively listens to them without wanting to make their own point or going into a defence mode”, explains Clara. “Normally, we are not aware of how quickly we react to what other people say. We rarely take the time to actually listen and understand what they want to express. A good way to practice this is to try out the Socratic method by closely listening to understand your counterpart, paraphrasing what they have said, and only after that, adding your own thoughts.”

 

5. Friday: Compliment a Stranger 

 

This can be done in the checkout line at the grocery store, or while you’re waiting for your order. Whether it’s a compliment about their outfit or their attitude, a sincere compliment can have a profound impact on someone’s mood and self-esteem. The key is to make it genuine and be natural. 

 

Still feel a little shy about it? Check out the video below and see how heartwarming this gesture can be 🙂 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clsXwv9kccc

 

6. Saturday: Spreading Joy Through a Smile

 

A smile is a universal language that can spread joy and kindness to anyone, anywhere. Once again, smiling is contagious, and when we smile at someone, they are often more likely to smile back. This creates a chain reaction of positivity that can spread far and wide. Moreover, did you know that smiling is a natural mood booster that can increase our own well-being? According to an international collaboration of researchers, that is exactly the case.. 

 

7. Sunday: Volunteer Your Time

 

Help out at a local charity, soup kitchen, or animal shelter. Not only will you be doing something kind for others, but you’ll also be helping yourself by getting out of the house and doing something meaningful.

 

These are just a few ideas to get you started on your own journey of kindness. If you’re feeling stuck and need some inspiration, consider setting a goal to perform a certain number of random acts of kindness each day or week. This can help you focus your efforts and make kindness a habit. 

 

Spread it like confetti

 

In a world where negativity and stress can be pervasive, it’s more important than ever to prioritise mental well-being and do good, whenever we can. Luckily, there are hundreds of ways that you can spread kindness around every single day. Whether it’s through a genuine compliment, active listening, or any other simple gesture, kindness has the ability to create a ripple effect of positivity and compassion.  

 

“Often people are waiting for others to be kind or to feel happy enough to engage in a kind deed but essentially it is a choice we can make anytime”, concludes Clara. “How kind others behave does not lie in our control but we can decide to show kindness to others. Independent of how people or if people respond to it, showing kindness makes us, as givers, happier. When we are kind to others, it makes us happy – and even happier than doing the same thing (like spending money) to ourselves. It’s like a “positive feedback loop” of kindness and happiness so that one stimulates or even amplifies the other.” 

 

So, this week and beyond, let’s challenge ourselves to be more intentional in our acts of kindness. Let’s go out of our way to show empathy and appreciation for those around us. And, most importantly, let’s have fun with it! You never know what positive impact your kindness may have, but one thing’s for sure – it always pays off.