Why small acts of kindness have big impact

There are many people doing incredible work for others around the world. Think of Doctors Without Borders, volunteers in war torn regions, and carers of the elderly or the disabled. So writing a blog about doing a small act of kindness seems rather insignificant. It seems trivial. Yet it doesn’t happen. Not everyone does something small, for someone else, on a daily basis. Do you?

I decided to do it. Here's what unfolded.

Some time ago, I had a short-term contract in the city. I had a car space at the office so I would drive there. But the traffic was hideous and the only way I could avoid it, was to leave home earlier than when the birds wake up. So I was in the city just after 6am and I'd go for a run for just under an hour. It was a beautiful time of day, watching other early risers, listening to the city yawn as lights start to flicker on. 

But I also would see people that are waking up in the exact spot where they’ve been sleeping. A park bench or a slab of concrete; not a warm, comfortable bed like I was in an hour before. 

My route didn't change too much. Along and around the beautiful old wharves that stretch out into the harbour enabling me to watch the harbour activity, but also smell the coffee beans from the dedicated cafe owners on the wharves opening their doors for the early risers.

Park benches dot the wharves for people to rest and watch our gorgeous harbour and city. A homeless man with his pushbike and blanket was sitting up, scratching his bits and pieces, probably trying to not think too much about where he was and why. As I ran by, I noticed a pair of sunglasses underneath the park bench where he was sitting. They were likely his. I kept running. 

And for the next few moments all I could think about as I continued my run was “small acts of kindness”. So I looped back. 

I ran past him again but slowed my pace to a walk, and pointed to the glasses asking if they were his. The look on his face was thankfulness and appreciation. If you had to describe those two words, then an image of his wrinkled eyes slightly widened with surprise, together with his smile, would have been the perfect description. 

I know he was appreciative. He may have discovered them himself when he discovered they were missing. Perhaps he was just happy that a stranger connected with him? I don’t know. 

And I was happy. I was just pleased to have made someone genuinely smile. And sometimes making a complete stranger smile has a bigger sense of joy attached to it. I’m not sure why. 

Why can small acts of kindness have big impact?

It’s simple really. 

Being the “giver” in 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 taking some risk. Taking some risk leads to new learnings. And new learnings can lead to all sorts of fun including innovation, creativity, optimism, and results. There you have it.

So are you practising small acts of kindness? Give it a go. I’d love to hear your feedback. Happy running.