Did you know the British-born Buddhist Monk "Ajahn Brahm" was one of the pioneers of the kindness movement? His teaching explores how non-judgemental awareness of others can positively affect the lives of others. From his teachings, the movement of "Little acts of kindness" began to emerge as a powerful tool for not only your own mental health but can make others happy too.
The Art of Kindness
The art of kindness means harbouring a spirit of helpfulness, as well as being generous and considerate. It means to practice kindness to others without expecting anything in return.
The Art of Kindness is good for your mental health.
Have you ever noticed that doing something for someone else makes you feel better too? These feelings are not random. Research shows that acts of kindness are linked to feelings of well-being. Some evidence indicates that when we help others, it boots the happy hormone serotonin, which temporarily releases endorphins that improve your mood ( referred to as a "helpers high)
Kindness towards others most often results in joy from the recipient, which can temporarily relieve your own anxiety and improve your mood.
Kindness towards others "warms your heart," but did you know this feeling of warmth and tenderness affects the chemical balance of your heart? Kindness releases a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the chain reaction release of another chemical called nitric acid. And nitric acids expand (dilates) blood vessels, reducing the pressure on your vessels and temporarily helping lower blood pressure.
Improve Your Mental Health with Random Acts of Kindness
- Stop yourself from being judgemental. We often judge a person's behaviour or lack thereof based on what we expect them to do. Try to withhold judgment and consider they most likely have stuff going on in their life that is also affecting their mental health.
- Acts of kindness are done without the expectation of anything in return. Hold the door for someone, give them your seat on a crowded bus or let them jump the queue in line. and do not get frustrated or angry if they do not respond with a thank you or any acknowledgement of your action.
- Smile at a stranger, say hello, good morning, or good day. You may catch them off guard for the moment, but your small gesture of kindness may be the only positive interaction that day.
- Let someone merge into traffic and signal someone to exit a parking lot while you hold back traffic for a few seconds. Rather than tighten the gap so they cannot enter the flow of traffic
Kindness does not only extend to strangers.
We often overlook the people we contact every day. Try these acts of kindness towards those people that cross our paths every day, but we fail to notice
- Take notice of that person that you see at the coffee shop all the time and offer to buy them a cup of coffee
- Write a thank you note to your mailman, your recycling company, or the refuse workers to thank them for their work. On hot summer days, you may want to leave a pail of ice-cold drinks on the road that says help yourself; you deserve it.
- Check in with neighbours that may seem lonely and drop a flower at their door. Take their empty trash cans back to their house or pick up their flyers and papers.
- Compliment good customer service
Be kind to the ones you love
We often take the ones that we love for granted; from family to friends, we assume they will always be there for us. Do you do the same for them?
- Reach out to a cousin or family member you have not spoken to. Send them a note, a thank you or think of your card in the mail. Better yet, pick up the phone just to say hello.
- Make dinner for a friend, a neighbour or a family member and drop it off. That one night's break may be just what they need in their busy life.
- Share a book with your love or drop flowers on your neighbour's doorstep—what a happy surprise when they get home.
- Offer to dog sit or child sit to give them some time to themselves
Practicing kindness should not be something you do every now and then. Try practicing a few acts of kindness every day in some way. The gesture can be small, but if it is done consciously and with love, the meaning will go a long way for their mental wellness and yours. It only takes a few minutes to make someone's day.
"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." —Dalai Lama
Remember to breathe!
Wherever you are in your life, we hope you give yourself permission to breathe. We hope that you take time every day to take stock of all the amazing parts of yourself, and you check personal criticism at the door.
The world we live in today is not easy; demands and stresses are bearing down on us every day. Our hope for you is that in a world that is always rushing, you can find a moment of stillness in your life to just be in the moment. Whatever that moment is.
If you feel grief, give yourself permission to feel it. If you feel tired, give yourself permission to take a rest. If you feel joy, then allow yourself to celebrate happiness. If you are not sure what you are feeling, release the pressure of trying to define the feelings and just be in the moment
Whatever happened today, this week or this month, give yourself “Permission to Breathe
- To remember
- To honour
- To celebrate
- To nurture
- To practice thankfulness
- To laugh
- To cry
- To Breathe