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What's Better than a Random Act of Kindness? An Intentional One!

I think most of us can say that we’ve heard of Random Acts of Kindness. It’s when we are out and about in the community and see an opportunity to show kindness to someone around us. That may be buying a coffee for the person behind us in a drive thru. It might be filling a parking meter when we see it’s expired and the parking attendant is roaming around. It can also be holding the door open for a stranger, a wave, a smile, a cheery, “Hello,” or basically anything that shows kindness.

Intentional acts of kindness are similar with a minor difference: They’re planned. As a result, you may do this for a stranger, loved one, friend, co-worker, etc. You take time, however short or long, to plan an act of kindness that you then carry out.

There is no doubt that both random and intentional acts are beneficial, especially to the person who is on the receiving end. It makes most people feel cared for, appreciated, and thought of. They feel like they matter. If you’ve ever received a kindness from another, especially out of the blue, it’s heartwarming. You may feel like someone has come to your rescue at just the right time. It can brighten your mood on a gloomy day. No matter whether the act is random or intentional, kindness for the receiver, has evident benefits.

Both random and intentional acts of kindness work to build community. When we do for others, there is a connection built between the giver and the receiver. It shows there are people around that care and are looking out for you. It makes our environment more friendly and welcoming. It shows people can make a difference. It’s common for people to post on social media after the reception of an act of kindness saying, “I love ____,” (insert town/city/organization/workplace). There is a sense of connectedness between all the parties and the community at large when acts of kindness are performed. We are able to build each other up.

Now you’re probably thinking, this all sounds good but why would I do an intentional act over a random one? You shouldn’t stop doing random acts because they’re both wonderful and show we can help out those in need despite the busyness and hecticness of our day. The randomness and spontaneity are what makes them pleasantly surprising. They have an important place in our relationship with our community. What I am proposing is the addition of intentional acts of kindness for you!

What does an intentional act do for the giver? Research by Dr. John-Tyler Binfet, from the University of British Columbia Okanagan, has shown that purposeful acts do more for the well-being of the giver than the receiver. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t meant to be selfish. Helping others provides benefits to them and the community in a positive and potentially long lasting way. Isn’t it amazing that we can benefit ourselves by showing kindness to others? I think this is brilliant!

Studies show the planning, carrying out, or watching another perform an act of kindness literally warms the heart and can lead to the experience of positive emotions. Levels of stress, anxiety and depression can be reduced when performing an intentional act of kindness. Feelings of empathy may increase and the parasympathetic nervous system can be activated which puts the brakes on the fight, flight or freeze response. In essence, it halts the stress response. All of this can be helpful to both our mental and physical wellbeing.

Another benefit to intentional acts is our ability to bond using this type of kindness. We can use it to build relationship with a team, workplace or family member. Athletic teams carry out acts of kindness as a way to engage in team bonding. Workplaces do this, too, with staff hampers or volunteering with those in need. My children and I do this as a way to celebrate advent during the Christmas season. It’s a great way to work toward a common goal, give to the community, all while bringing happiness to those on the receiving end and improving your wellbeing.

So to all who volunteer or plan acts of kindness as a way to give back, keep it up. You’re setting a great example for those around you. Your community appreciates you and your physical and mental wellness will be better off for it!

For everyone else, here is an opportunity to positively impact those around you and bring yourself some happiness. I challenge you to do an intentional act of kindness this week. Even better, invite someone to join you. Spread the wellness.

If you have an example of an intentional act of kindness you’ve carried out in the past, please share them in the comments section below or in the forum (you can find the tab to this on the Home page). I love hearing of the ways people give back, plus, I can note ideas that I may like to participate in.

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