Like so many others, I was inspired to partake of some personal relationship building activities by Anne Curry’s 26 Acts of Kindness movement. Ms. Curry initiated this powerful challenge just after the Sandy Hook Tragedy.
The morning I learned about #26Acts I went about my day attempting to rack up my 26 acts. I held doors for people, let others go ahead of me in line and even bought a lottery ticket for a stranger. And you know what? It felt GREAT!
There is a scientific reason it feels so good. When you perform an act of kindness, or are on the receiving end, serotonin is released in your brain allowing you to feel what is referred to as the “helper’s high”. We also release endorphins that can result in an increase of self-worth, decrease the awareness of physical pain, and even strengthen your immune system. Trust me, it feels awesome. The really good news: Kindness Creates Kindness. One act of kindness influences others to do so as well.
Last year, a friend of mine asked for my help as she prepared to speak at a Victim Impact Panel - an opportunity for victims of DUI crashes to share their experience with DUI offenders who are required to be there as part of their sentence. My friend was nervous. Would they be a particularly hostel crowd? Would anyone care that a drunk driver took her brother’s life?
We worked on the structure of her speech and a few delivery techniques, making sure her message was clear without being angry. Her goal was to honestly share how this tragedy had affected her life. One small detail in her presentation was about an annual children’s charity drive her brother had started, but that sadly ended when his life ended.
I attended her presentation, sitting in the back of the room offering as much moral support as possible. My friend did a great job. The audience of 80 or so listened with empathy and even asked some follow-up questions. I was quite proud. Just before the session was scheduled to end, one gentleman raised his hand, stood up and stated “I am sorry for your loss and I am sorry the charity your brother started is no longer active. Please take this,” he held up a few dollars, “to carry on with your brother’s tradition”.
I was floored. But more moved that almost every other person in the room got up and handed her whatever they had in their pockets as they walked out. I saw people smiling as they left. People who had to attend this event, by court order, left smiling and feeling good about themselves with most of the credit going to the one gentleman who started the act of kindness avalanche.
What relationship building activities can you perform to create kindness today? Here is a list of terrific ideas to get you stared.