Grand gestures and philanthropic acts are wonderful, but they’re just that — grand. They require time, planning and, often, a substantial financial investment.
Fortunately, research has shown that smaller acts can have serious payoffs as well, both on the giving and receiving end. Everyday kindness has been linked to everything from improved happiness to decreased inflammation in the body, as David Hamilton, author of Why Kindness Is Good For You has explained.
With that in mind, here are just a few extremely simple, decidedly doable ways to give back and be kind … today.
1. Make a personal connection.
So-called “pro-social behaviors” — voluntary social acts aimed at benefiting others — are contagious (those on the receiving end tend to pay it forward) and lead to longterm improvements in happiness and overall life satisfaction on the giver’s end, according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California Riverside who has researched the topic. “We’ve found that social kinds [of kindness] have somewhat bigger effects overall,” she told The Huffington Post. “It could be, ‘I helped my sister with her homework,’ or ‘I helped someone carry a package.'”
“During your day make a personal connection with people you might normally tend to pass by and take for granted: the checkout clerk, the cleaning crew at your office or your hotel, the barista in the coffee shop,” HuffPost’s editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington urges in her latest book Thrive. “See how this helps you feel more alive and reconnected to the moment.”