Sometimes the world can just get me down, or a specific event makes me really sad, or a problem keeps me up all night filled with stress. In this blog, I’ve talked about lots of ways I, and researchers who are way smarter than I am, have found to fight back against depression and stress.

But here’s another one that researchers have identified, and I love it.  Kindness.

Random acts of kindness–like paying for a stranger’s coffee at the coffeeshop, or calling an old friend out of the blue, or leaving homemade cookies for the mailman—have been scientifically shown to improve mood.

Researchers compared the effect of three different things on depressed or anxious thoughts—planning fun activities twice a week, keeping a journal of thoughts that trigger depression and anxiety, and doing random acts of kindness for others.  The good news is that all three strategies improved people’s mood. But the kindness strategy did as well or better than the other two, and had the added bonus of increasing social connections, which didn’t happen with the other two strategies (remember how I talked about the importance of social connection for wellbeing in my post Just Five Minutes?). 

Reading about this finding on kindness, I can’t help but think about the verse from Proverbs 11:17 “The merciful man does good to his own soul.” Kindness benefits the person you help, but it is so good for our spirit as well. It’s a two-for-one benefit.

Imagine what would happen if each of us woke up every morning and thought “I am going to take 60 seconds today and do something kind for someone else, for no specific reason.”  Everyone around us would be a little bit happier. And we would feel less sad, less stressed, and more like we were thriving.

Kindness—a one-minute, two-sided stress buster.  Something everyone has time for and can do. Try it and see.

You can read more about the kindness study here if you’re interested

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