This week was a real doozy. We could all stand to feel a little warm and fuzzy right about now.
Luckily (conveniently?) Sunday, November 13 marks World Kindness Day, an awareness event that encourages people to be generous with others. And it would benefit us to participate: Research shows that kindness boosts our overall well-being.
Below are just a few ways we can exercise altruism this weekend and beyond.
Don’t avoid eye contact. Research shows exchanging a smile with a stranger can increase feelings of social connectedness.
Simple? Yes. Powerful? Absolutely.
No contribution is too small. Research indicates that human beings are hardwired for empathy, which could explain why we feel compelled to take action for others when we feel there’s some sort of injustice at play.
“Your sweater looks pretty” is nice, but try digging a little deeper. Meaningful praise can go a long way. Here are a few suggestions.
Give back to people (or animals!) in need. Research suggests volunteering can make us happier and even reduce symptoms of depression.
There’s power in forgiveness. Spread kindness by extending it to someone you once thought didn’t deserve it. Research shows letting go of a grudge can also benefit your emotional and physical health.
It’s a fast, yet feel-good way to make a small difference: Help a mom carry her stroller down the subway stairs or hand $5 to a homeless person who looks like he could use a meal.
Human beings thrive on intimacy. Studies suggest hugs can lower blood pressure, alleviate fear and reduce stress.
Dogs love us unconditionally. Give them some love back by spending a little extra time with them, whether it’s your own dog, your neighbor’s dog or volunteering to help out at a shelter. Pets can reduce feelings of loneliness and lower blood pressure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bonus points if it has nothing to do with appearance. Research shows self-acceptance could be a huge key to a happier life but it’s a habit we practice the least. Kindness should be extended everywhere and to everyone.
We deserve it.