Paris is a delightfully beautiful city, it can however also be an astonishingly challenging city, everyone seemingly going about their business with no regard of others or their call of need. I have heard and read many a story where people have been in need of help and found the people of the city wanting. The lack of concern and kindly help by society can be disheartening and, at times, frightening.
Positive psychology research tells us that acts of kindness are good for our and others overall well-being. Psychologist and researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky undertook a study in which participants performed regular, random acts of kindness. Interestingly even though participants were instructed to undertake random acts of kindness, their happiness scores rose indicating a strong relationship between random acts of kindness and happiness.
A working example of the positive effects of acts of kindness is illustrated in a conversation I recently had with an expatriate lady. For the sake of this article her name is Laura. Laura had hoped her helping would be returned to her, either directly or indirectly. She hoped it would help her form healthy bonds with others and help her settle in her new country. Laura is now returning to her home country and upon reflection of the role her helping has had, she feels helping has increased her self-worth and given her life greater purpose. Laura spoke of receiving great pleasure through giving others joy by helping them. She found herself experiencing a sense of connectedness to society; friendships were formed, helping her to adjust to the new country and she experienced satisfaction in her daily life.
Some ideas for random acts of kindness:
∼ Use your manners – thank the person who opens the door
∼ Be thoughtful – offer the elderly your seat, pay an extra large tip
∼ Give compliments generously – let the baker know the “baguette” was delicious even if his business appears to be prospering
∼ Be conscious of those who may be lonely – say “hello”, enquire how they are
∼ Help your community – volunteer at an organisation
∼ Answer a call for help – always respond even if you cannot help
∼ Expect nothing in return for your acts of kindness – savour the joy of having helped
In this city, which at times may feel like a hostile, lonesome world, take a moment to help yourself and others by making random acts of kindness a daily exercise, in addition to creating or getting involved in an organisation to help the broader community.
Random acts of kindness are infectious and reciprocal in effect and affect. They help to create “kindness – aware” communities. What random act of kindness did you partake in today?