In honor of national Volunteer Appreciation Week, we are compelled to consider the dynamic of volunteerism and to reflect on the immeasurable impact of the many volunteers throughout Eskaton. Although there have been many recent, necessary changes to the ways volunteers serve Eskaton and our residents, one constant is our admiration for our volunteers and their compassionate choice to be part of the “kindness boomerang.”
Have you ever been in line at your favorite coffee place and had the car in front of you pay for your order? Maybe someone noticed your arms full and opened a door for you, or perhaps they offered some extra change when you were a few pennies short at the grocery checkout line. While there has been a lot of talk about random acts of kindness in recent years, have you ever stopped to think about how those small acts influence your attitude and your perception of the world around you?
We all know from personal experience that our treatment at the hands of others can have a significant impact on how we relate to those people, both positively and negatively. A harsh word from a colleague can all but ruin a good day, just as compliment from a stranger can boost our mood and put a little swing in our step. But are you aware that how you treat others can affect your levels of happiness as well?
Recent studies have demonstrated that kindness is very much a two-way street. When invited to decide between performing an act of kindness for others or for themselves, researchers noted that participants that chose to uplift another individual felt deeper, longer-lasting feelings of contentment and well-being than those who decided otherwise. Another study determined that those who elected to take the more altruistic path had a much easier time remembering instances where someone offered them kindness. Individuals from both studies reported having a more positive outlook in regards to their own levels of happiness and overall life satisfaction, as well as a significant decrease in feelings of depression.
This is known as The Kindness Boomerang.
Simply put, what you put out in the universe, you shall receive back in kind. In more scientific terms, when we show kindness to others, our brains release feel-good chemicals like serotonin and other endorphins, helping to banish negative emotions like sadness and anxiety. Being kind has been correlated to other health benefits as well, showing that it has the power to support our bodies by reducing blood pressure and encouraging a healthy heart. In addition, showing a little kindness helps us see the world from another’s perspective, creating new opportunities for learning and building stronger, deeper connections to others.
Of course, maintaining a positive outlook and sharing that positivity with others isn’t always easy. We all have bad days where the challenges we face seem insurmountable and looking for ways to boost your own mood can seem an impossible task. Here are a few tips to help you find a more compassionate frame of mind, even when the going gets tough.
Take it to Heart: We’ve all experienced moments where someone’s generosity and kindness of spirit has meant everything to us. Remembering how good this felt and how much it helped can go a long way in inspiring kindness to others.
The Golden Rule: When recalling the ways that others have supported you, think about how you want to influence the people in your life, and the impact you wish to have on their well-being.
View the World Through New Lenses: The natural human response to a situation we don’t understand or have no personal experience with is often to dismiss it. Rather than rejecting situations (and people) unfamiliar to you, focus on listening to them and offering a sympathetic shoulder to lean on.
One Step at a Time: With all that we face us on a daily basis, making kindness to others a priority can seem a rather daunting task. However, by committing to kindness with small, random acts every day, what can seem impossible can soon seem as natural as breathing.
The most important thing to remember is being conscience of how your words and actions can affect those around you. Consideration comes in all forms and can be translated a thousand ways. Find a language that suits you best, and fill the world with kindness – one small act at a time.
Please consider how you, too, can impact lives in meaningful ways. Please visit https://www.eskaton.org/volunteer-opportunities