How Random Acts Of Kindness Will Make You Richer Than Ever

Nicola Forshaw is the owner of Mindfit, a health & wellbeing practice based in Liverpool city centre. Nicola is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, a member of the British Institute of Hypnotherapy and an accredited Mindfulness trainer. Nicola has taught Mindfulness to individuals, schools and companies across Liverpool and is passionate about improving wellbeing. Nicola@mind-fit.co.uk
Nicola Forshaw is the owner of Mindfit, a health & wellbeing practice based in Liverpool city centre. Nicola is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, a member of the British Institute of Hypnotherapy and an accredited Mindfulness trainer. Nicola has taught Mindfulness to individuals, schools and companies across Liverpool and is passionate about improving wellbeing.
Nicola@mind-fit.co.uk
RECENTLY I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with the fantastic staff at Knowsley Community & Voluntary Services. KCVS are dedicated to promoting and facilitating positive social change and work with commercial organisations, local authorities, and community groups who want to do good – social value is at the heart of everything they do. As part of their away-day session we did an exercise on the importance of kindness and taking in the good, where I asked staff to share any recent personal experience of kindness or positivity. Usually this part of the session can take a while to get going as it doesn’t come natural for us to talk about the good stuff we do, so I was then blown away by the staff’s readiness to share their stories of kindness and for me the best part of working with this company was learning all about their Pay It Forward campaign. Working in partnership with Knowsley Council, KCVS set up a month-long initiative encouraging individuals, social enterprises and businesses to think about doing something good for others without expecting anything in return. Inspired by the film of the same name, the Pay It Forward campaign asks you to carry out a random act of kindness for three or more people and encourage them to do the same. These random acts can be as simple as paying for a cup of tea for someone, taking their dog for a walk or a business offering a free hour of consultation to a young entrepreneur. So the team at KCVS led the way and for month and took to the streets of Knowsley offering people Random Acts of Kindness (RAK), amazing! RAK’s included paying for people’s car parking (always nice!), handing out bunches of flowers (even better!) and on cold and rainy days handing out free umbrellas during torrential rain and paying for lots and lots of tea and coffee. Lindsey Harrison, Director of Connections & Communications at KCVS said: “It was an absolute privilege to be involved, we got such a great buzz from doing good for others. At first people were a bit reluctant to accept kindness – it was very much like “what’s the catch?” but when you explain its just a genuine act of kindness and all we ask is that you do something good for someone else, it stops people in their tracks. “I recall one young girl in particular, she had no coat, no umbrella and was getting soaked in heavy rain. I ran up to her and offered her a free umbrella, and she couldn’t believe it and called me an angel sent from heaven! People were overwhelmed with gratitude, they really bought in to it and start telling me about all the good stuff they have already done and how they promise to pass the kindness on to someone else – one thing stood out for me which was everyone walked away with a smile on their face and it was so heart-warming to see and be part of.” There are clear links to improved health and well-being for individuals who make a contribution to their local community. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California has studied happiness for 20 years and says: “People who engage in kind acts become happier over time. When you are kind to others, you feel good as a person — more moral, optimistic, and positive,” Lyubomirsky found that performing such positive acts once a week led to the most happiness. Five reasons why you should pay it forward 1) Kindness makes us happier When we do something kind for someone else, we feel good. On a spiritual level, many people feel that this is because it is the right thing to do and so we’re tapping into something deep and profound inside of us that says, ‘This is who I am.’ 2) Kindness gives us healthier hearts Acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone oxytocin which causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which expands the blood vessels. Therefore, oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart by lowering blood pressure. 3) Kindness slows aging Research now shows that oxytocin also reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system and so slows aging at source. So spread a little kindness everyday day and save yourself a fortune on anti-aging creams! 4) Kindness makes for better relationships We all know that we like people who are kind to us. This is because kindness reduces the emotional distance between two people and so we feel more ‘bonded’. It’s something that is so strong in us that it’s actually genetic. We are wired for kindness. The stronger the emotional bonds within a relationships the longer the relationship will last. 5) Kindness is contagious When we’re kind we inspire others to be kind and studies show that it actually creates a ripple effect that spreads outwards to our friends’ friends’ friends to 3-degrees of separation. So don’t miss out, make sure your part of the ripple! Even just listening to the staff at KCVS sharing their Pay It Forward stories gave me that feel good high and I wanted to get involved so hopefully by sharing this story with you we can keep the ripple effect going a little longer…. some ideas to get you started: Buy a cup of tea/coffee for the next person at your local café Pay for the bus fare of the youngest person in the bus queue Pay for someone’s parking if they are struggling to find the right change for the machine Do some weeding or cut the grass for the older person in your street Send a card to someone you know is sick or in hospital to brighten up their day Let another car out first Buy your mum or friend some flowers Help your school friend with some homework Buy/make a sandwich for a homeless person Offer some your seat on a bus/train Help someone who is struggling at work PayItForward is a national scheme and you can find more ideas and resources on the official website www.payitforward.co.uk