Habit 6 from the 12 Habits of Resilient + Thriving People
Each week for 12 weeks, I’ll blog about one habit. And if you feel inclined, you can road test it for yourself. Habit 6 is about Kindness.
Habit 6: Kindness
How can kindness or generosity increase resilience? A small act of kindness is a positive experience. The more positive experiences you have each and every day, the better you feel about yourself. The better you feel about yourself, leads to higher levels of self-esteem. Higher self-esteem leads to confidence. Confidence leads to seeking challenges. New challenges lead to new learnings. And new learnings can lead to all sorts of fun including innovation, creativity, optimism, and results. These all add up to raising your resilience.
I donated blood this week. I meet a girlfriend at the blood donor centre, we both donate, and then go for a walk and have a coffee. A kindness/social combo! But before the bliss of coffee is the sting of the needle. Laying on the table with a litre of rich, red blood flowing from my veins, I force my mind to imagine someone laying next to me, someone who desperately needs this blood to stay alive. The visualisation helps me to feel a direct connection to saving just one life at that moment, and this direct connection will keep me turning up to donate every three months.
There are so many ways to be kind. It’s endless. It can be formal, like donating blood or volunteering in a community centre, or informal, like giving someone a hand with a heavy bag. It can be big or small.
A couple of months ago I was struggling to get a desk I’d bought from Ikea into the back of my car. It was like trying to get one of those pop-up beach shelters back into its carry bag. No matter which way I turned it, it wouldn’t fit. I could feel it slipping from my fingers and about to crash on the ground when Superman appeared, and within a couple of minutes, the desk was securely inside. I said “thank you” and held myself back from launching into a full bear hug, but then he said “no, thank you for letting me help you”. An illustration that the “giver’s high” can be in equal proportion to the “receiver’s high”.
Being kind to others is a powerful way to stoke your resilience.
The neurotransmitter, serotonin which is popularly understood to be a contributor to feelings of wellbeing and happiness, is boosted with an act of kindness. Getting this boost on a regular basis, through a behavioural act of kindness has been well-studied. It shifts us towards the positive which in turn builds resilience.
It’s a no brainer. If you want to be happier and be more resilient, be kind. Doing something for someone else that will make a difference to their day is all it takes. It could simply be a kind word. Stop rushing through your day, thinking only about what you’ve got to do. Kindness takes you outside your own mind for a moment to think of someone else. And it then returns the favour by planting a seed of positivity back into your mind. Sure, life’s busy but I can’t think of one good reason why every person can’t do one small thing every single day that could be counted as a random act of kindness. I’m happy to be challenged on this!
To really get the gold star for this habit there’s one additional step you need to take. You need to process that positive experience of being kind into your memory. And all that takes is a small conversation with yourself to acknowledge what made it a positive experience. Why do this? It helps to move it from your short term memory into longer term memory. And that helps to build your store of positivity and resilience.
Habit 6: Road test
One random act of kindness every day for two weeks.
Here are some suggested options to keep yourself on it.
- Smartphone users: put a daily reminder into your "reminders" App that says “random act of kindness!”
- Decide on a certain period during the day as your time to do your random act of kindness i.e. lunch time. Then, using the If/Then Planning model say “IF it is lunchtime, THEN I’ll do my random act of kindness”.
- If you work from a home office, stick an old-fashioned note somewhere to remind you.
Here are some ideas for random acts of kindness:
- Pay someone a compliment
- Write a handwritten note to say thank you or give positive feedback
- Put a positive sticky-note on a colleague’s desk
- Smile at a stranger
- Do something nice for a neighbour
- Tell someone’s manager when they do some great work
- Pick up litter
- Offer your time to help someone
- Bake a cake for no reason and give it to someone
- New person at work who isn’t local? Offer to be a tour guide for a day