Free to Give

"Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Here’s a riddle for you:

Q: What costs you nothing to give, and is priceless to receive?

A: Kindness.

It’s amazing how one small act of kindness can change someone’s day, week or even life. And, in so many cases it doesn’t cost you anything more than a smile or a hello, or a simple action like holding a door. It could change your actions, like withholding judgment towards the mom with the screaming kids. Or it could be bigger - and cost you the time or resources to give back to your community through volunteering or a financial contribution.

Here's the thing about kindness: it’s not only good for those who receive it, but it's also good for the giver too. Researchers have been studying the effects of kindness for years, and the Stanford School of Medicine has even dedicated a centre to it -  The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE).  

So, what can being kind do for you? Decrease stress, anxiety, and depression for a start. It also improves your physical health - reducing aches and pains - improves self-esteem and boosts empathy. Oh, and the most amazing thing about kindness? It’s contagious! In a BeWell interview, Dr. Emma Seppala, the director of CCARE explains the ripple effect of kindness this way: “acts of generosity and kindness beget more generosity in a chain reaction of goodness...In other words, you may feel like just one small human being in a giant worldwide population and you may wonder how much of an impact you really can have, but research shows that you can have a huge impact.”

Kindness isn’t the only contagious emotion. In an article, the Association for Psychological Science (APS) discussed contagious behaviour. According to APS, “people are extremely good at picking up on other people’s emotions - both negative and positive - without consciously trying.”

Today is #GivingTuesday. It’s the day after a weekend built around consumerism. It comes on the tails of Black Friday lineups, door-crasher specials, and cyber Monday want-to-haves. It’s a day to remind us of the importance of showing kindness by giving some of our time and/or resources to those in need. And the opportunities to do these acts of kindness are endless. There are so many causes that need our help. But, it’s also more than that. It’s also a day to remember the importance of giving kindness.

So, today (and every day), let’s break the negative emotions and actions. Let’s stand up, speak out and push back against hatred and intolerance by simply being kind to others. In that way, we can all play a really vital role in making the world a better, kinder place.

Victoria Ford

Victoria thinks the world could do with a lot more heart. Her goal? To encourage others to stand up, speak out and push back against hatred.