Happiness researcher Sean Achor demonstrated through his extensive research that if you perform random acts of kindness for two minutes a day for twenty-one days, you can actually retrain your brain to be more positive. Studies such as his show that when your brain is more positive you are more likely to be creative, intelligent and productive. These attributes can spin into what we perceive as ‘quality of life’ attributes – job success, wealth, healthy relationships, and better health. This adage, that happiness breeds success, is counterintuitive to what Western society popularly perceives as the opposite, that success lends itself to happiness.
Kindness is a simple concept, yet so very impactful. It can make the world a better place by ending suffering at the hands of war, hunger, human rights violations, and injustice. It has the power to drastically improve our own well-being as well as that of our families, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. The very act of expressing graciousness to one another can make us more empathetic of other people’s hardships. Within the workforce, kindness towards one another can inspire employees to be more productive and make businesses more profitable.
Does the paragraph above sound a bit dramatic? Pay attention to how kindness has the ability to impact your life. Observe those moments when someone does something unexpectedly kind for you. How frequently does it happen? How does it make you feel? Does it transform your outlook on the day? I challenge you to commit a random act of kindness. Spend two minutes a day doing it for just three weeks. How does it make you feel? How does it make your recipients feel? Share your stories with us here.
Bob Kerry once said, "Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly and most underrated agent in human change." What a profound statement! And yet it is the easiest thing in the world to execute. With very little time (even just two minutes a day) and very minimal effort we can transform a human being’s day, week, or even life. The return on investment is off the charts! How can something so simple and so easy have such a tremendous impact on others and ourselves?
Every act of kindness creates a ripple effect that spreads from person to person with no end in sight. Kindness is contagious like a disease in which the outcome is divinely beautiful. Jamil Zaki, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and Director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab recently conducted a series of studies that observe how witnessing kindness inspires kindness, causing it to spread like a virus. He concludes that "by emphasizing empathy-positive norms, we may be able to leverage the power of social influence to combat apathy and conflict in new ways.”
To start a movement of kindness we created Kindness & Co, Random Act of Kindness Kits. The kits empower an individual to start their own chain reaction of kindness. Each Kit includes a long list of fun and innovative ways in which the recipient can create their own acts of kindness. Because we found that people increasingly value experiences over material things, Kindness Kits are our way of replacing consumerism in holiday or birthday gift-giving and replacing it with the truly honorable experience of spreading cheer in people’s lives.
Additionally, businesses and organizations are using Kindness Kits for employee gifts, thank you’s, lead generation, and tokens of customer or employee appreciation, to name a few. While it seems inconceivable that benevolence has a place in today’s cutthroat, competitive, winner-takes-all business environment, even the most successful companies are recognizing its virtues. Billionaire and entrepreneur Mark Cuban was recently quoted saying “Nice is way undervalued right now. It’s one of the most valuable assets out there,” when asked about negotiating tips.
Instead of buying bland, typical gifts again this year for your friends and family, and acquaintances, how about saying and doing something more imaginative and creative that will make a bigger difference to both you and them. And rather than giving your employees a logo-emblazoned chotski that lacks any real value to them, give them the experience of kindness. Give a positive experience that makes the recipient happy and helps the world. In the words of Maya Angelou, "People will forget what you did, they will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel."
Every act of kindness creates a ripple effect that spreads with no end in sight. Let's run with it!