“When you walk into your local coffee shop or go to work, what can you do to make someone’s day? Pay for coffee for the person standing behind you? Smile and make eye contact with someone passing in the hall? Perhaps the person was having a tough day and by acknowledging them, you’ve made an impact on their lives. No encounter is random but an opportunity to spread some light.”-Rabbi Daniel Cohen
Did you know that being kind is good for your health? This could include you demonstrating kindness to others or even witnessing acts of kindness around you. Kindness can impact your brain by boosting or releasing serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and/or oxytocin. These chemicals can positively impact stress levels, bonding, and overall well-being.
Now that we know kindness is more than just the right thing to do, but it impacts our overall health, how do we instill more kindness in our lives? To honor Random Acts of Kindness Week, my children and I are engaging in a February Kindness Challenge (what a great way to build the kiddos skills in this space and give them a positive brain boost)! This site gives some great suggestions for developing your own challenge.
I sat down with my kids, 8 and 5 years old, to map out our 30-day plan. We looked at the suggestions for kind acts, brainstormed different ideas collectively, and created a poster to map out our plan for the month. We review it every morning and evening and cross out one item a day. It stays on the front of our fridge as a reminder to be kind to each other and those around us. My hope is that after 30 days, random acts of kindness become a family habit. They become so engrained in us that we don’t even think about it, we just act.
We are in the first week of our acts of kindness and after a rough start (of sister and brother NOT showing kindness to each other), I think we hit a breakthrough last night. Without asking, they both created mini books for their teachers. They created the stories and drawings and included a piece of candy for each teacher from their personal collection (leftovers from the winter holidays).
While they were working on this activity last night, the house became quieter and calmer. My stress levels went down and bedtime became much easier. This morning they wrapped their gifts and left the house feeling joyful. In just a few days, we can already see our well-being increase and our collective stress decrease. I am feeling less drained, which allows me to show up better for them. On top of that, they did something kind for someone who works very hard to educate them on a daily basis and probably doesn’t get thanked for it that often. While I know there will be ups and downs with this challenge to come, I look forward to our family making this a positive habit that leads to positive outcomes for others and the community.