It happened again: just the other day I was the recipient of a random act of kindness, and I was most appreciative of a stranger’s humanity.
Because I was in a hurry to avoid the huge rainstorm that was rapidly approaching, I ran over a parking cone and it got stuck under my car. I pulled over, turned off the engine, reached under and tried to pull out the cone, but no luck. A total stranger, seeing my plight, came over to assist and said he would try to get the cone out from under my car. After lying on the wet pavement and tugging on the cone for a bit, he dislodged and removed the cone. To say I was effusive with thanks would be an understatement. I was ecstatic, relieved, and very grateful.
They happen every once in a while, these random acts, and whether because each is unexpected, or helpful, or just so incredibly kind, I find they motivate me to be kinder to others and, not unlike the movie, “Pay It Forward,” to initiate some random acts of my own. I have also found that being kind and helpful to others makes me happier, and increases my sense of well-being.
It turns out my conclusions are justified.
In the article, “Pay It Forward,” Elizabeth Svoboda cited Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky (University of California, Riverside), a researcher in the factors that make people happy, whose studies discerned that individuals enjoy engaging in good deeds because they like to be appreciated, and that those individuals will continue to engage in good deeds so long as the deeds are perceived to make a difference. Additionally, folks look forward to the possibility of having their acts of kindness reciprocated, all of which can result in increased psychological well-being. And interestingly, researchers at The Harvard School of Public Health reported in the article, “Positive Emotions May Help Protect Cardiovascular Health,” that regardless of age, smoking, weight, or socioeconomic status, the risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and strokes, can be reduced as a direct result of psychological well-being.
Some ideas for random acts of kindness from Random Acts of Kindness.org:
Bring in your neighbor’s trash cans
Let someone go in front of you
Hold the door open for someone
Help someone with yard work
Bring your coworkers a special treat
Leave change in a vending machine
So if doing good deeds and random acts of kindness equate to psychological well-being, and psychological well-being equates to better cardiovascular health, I think I’m going to put a lot more time and effort into figuring out how to regularly schedule some random acts of kindness into my day. I like the thought that good deeds could decrease the possibility of taking heart medication, or even scheduling heart surgery, in the years to come.