Aesop once said “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” While this may seem obvious when thinking about the recipient of a kind act, who may benefit from increased feelings of belongingness and a renewed sense of hope, it also holds true for the person doing the act.
As it turns out, when you do nice things for others – hold a door, buy coffee for a friend, take the time to say hello or even let someone merge into your lane during your commute – you’re actually doing something nice for yourself. Research shows that completing one act of kindness weekly may lead to a “happiness-boost” in the performer regardless of where or how the act occurred. This is largely due to the release of oxytocin in the brain, stimulated by the “emotional warmth” experienced as a result of performing the kind act. Benefits of engaging in kindness include experiencing a more positive mood or outlook, a greater sense of connectedness and increased relationship satisfaction. The pros are not just psychological, however. While oxytocin is responsible for that happy feeling after performing a kind act, it is also “cardioprotective” – meaning that it protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.
Research indicates that the benefits of performing a small act of kindness are influenced by motivation, variety and frequency. By choosing your own target behavior (i.e. a particular act of kindness), you’re more likely to stay motivated because your commitment has personal value and supports your sense of freedom. You’re also more likely to find new ways to make a difference (variety).
While performing an act of kindness once per week may be ideal, forming a new habit can be difficult – especially if not repeated frequently. As we celebrate our six month 1SmallACT-iversary this March—and as we continue our mission to support Every Sailor, Every Day—we invite you to take the opportunity to make kindness one of your healthy habits. From March 11th through the end of the month, you can participate in our “21 Days of Small ACTs” challenge to uplift yourself, your shipmates, your family and members of the Navy community. Getting involved is easy (and rewarding!):
- Go to suicide.navy.mil and print your 1 Small ACT sign.
- Personalize your sign with a random act of kindness that you can perform at least once per week throughout the challenge’s 21 day duration.
- Take a “Small ACT Selfie” (photo) holding up your sign.
- Email your selfie to us at firstname.lastname@example.org (no encrypted messages, please) or post it to Facebook using the hashtag #1SmallACT and/or #SmallACTSelfie for inclusion in the 1 Small ACT Photo Gallery. You may also submit your photo using the Real Warriors Campaign app.
- Pass on the kindness! Encourage six shipmates, family, friends or coworkers to take the challenge, in honor of the “1 Small ACT” six month anniversary.
Once you’ve completed the challenge, you will be well on your way to making kindness a habit and may find that you’re more confident in working toward other healthy habits. Remember, when we help others, we help ourselves. 1 Small ACT can make a difference.
Acts of Kindness can Make You Happier. (2014, January 14). Retrieved March 01, 2016, from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2013/01/24/acts-of-kindness-can-make-you-happier
13 Ways To Be Nicer. (2012, June 07). Retrieved March 01, 2016, from http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/doing-kind-acts-reduces-anxiety-study