Recently my husband found he'd been undercharged in a supermarket. A few minutes later he came across a homeless person sitting in a doorway with her dogs. As he'd unexpectedly benefited from the chain store he delved into his pocket, grabbed as much change as he could find and gave it to her while explaining what had happened... paying it forward with a random act of kindness... and you won't believe what she did next.
The lady wisely claimed that his desire to pay it forward was a seed of gratitude that would grow for him and would become something more. She wasn't wrong as a short time later he found more money on the pavement and his day became a lot brighter. Then he shared his story with friends who also felt compelled to pay it forward with other 'feel-good' acts of kindness.
An example of the benefits of paying something forward and showing others random acts of kindness. It may only be small but can you see how it's grown into something more... spreading out to positively impact people beyond the original act?
Positive psychology studies have gathered evidence that a random act of kindness does actually work and there are significant rewards we can all benefit from if we do this kind of thing regularly.
In addition to this, psychologists and social scientists have run experiments showing that the result of an act of kindness can set off a positive ripple throughout a social network. This helps to set off a chain reactions and other acts of kindness and generosity can reach far beyond the original act. In fact, studies show that this type of generosity can actually become contagious.
"Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty"... Anne Herbert
We know that practicing gratitude can benefit us in a number of tangible ways, as is show in the study by Berkeley. This proves that people who practice gratitude consistently report a number of benefits such as:
- Stronger immune system;
- Lower blood pressure
- Higher levels of positive feelings and emotions;
- More happiness, joy and optimism;
- Increase wellbeing and self-satisfaction;
- Feelings of compassion and generosity towards others;
- Less feelings and emotions of isolation and loneliness.
If this isn't compelling enough, another study showed that it can even boost your relationships, both romantically and otherwise. It can also boost your feelings of self worth and value in the workplace while improving levels of trust between colleagues.
So if you want a brighter day, to boost your zest for life and feel happier, start paying forward what you've learnt today by giving out a random act of kindness. In turn, your actions will encourage others to do the same and before you know it you may just start a contagious chain-reaction making your actions become socially viral, resulting in a huge number of random acts of kindness taking place all over the world.
Well... we can hope!