Random Acts of Kindness
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
(Aesop, The Lion and the Mouse)
We’ve all certainly experienced an act of kindness – a memorable event when someone, perhaps even a complete stranger, came to our aid when we least expected it: a flat tire changed, a casserole baked, a helping hand with a heavy load. When we are at the receiving end of an act of kindness, no matter how small, we experience lowered stress levels and a lift in our spirits.
Apparently, so does the giver of the good deed. In recent years, there has been a host of research studies that indicate that doing good can indeed be good for you. “Helper’s high,” the rush of adrenaline that altruistic people can sometimes feel after doing a good deed for someone else, has been linked to lowered stress levels, improved immunity from illness, and longer life, in addition to a general sense of calm and positive well-being. And these feelings lead to the desire to do more good deeds, thus lifting your own spirits as well as those of whom you help.
According to Stephen G. Post, PhD, a professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a prominent researcher in the study of the biological effects of altruism, “All the great spiritual traditions and the field of positive psychology are emphatic on this point — that the best way to get rid of bitterness, anger, rage, jealousy is to do unto others in a positive way” (WebMD).
And so, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, if you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed (and who isn’t in today’s economy?), the best way to help yourself is by helping others.