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Kindness: Ideas, Inspiration & the Research about Its Positive Effects

Posted on February 22, 2023 at 6:00 am

By Abra Cole

Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness Day was February 17, 2023, and while it was perhaps overshadowed by Valentine’s Day, it still serves as a great reminder that we can all be kinder to each other every day of the year!

Research has shown that being on the receiving end of kind deeds can improve our moods through the release of serotonin, but did you know that performing acts of kindness will also boost your feelings of happiness?

A quick search of ProQuest, a resource available in our Digital Library, reveals studies on how being kind to others also benefits the person being kind. One study found that the participants who were instructed to perform acts of kindness over a 10-day period experienced a higher levels of life satisfaction than their peers who were instructed to do nothing special (Buchanan and Bardi).

Another study found that it didn’t matter who a person is kind towards and that just being kind or even just witnessing kindness boosted contentment: “…kindness to strong ties, to weak ties, and to self, as well as observing acts of kindness, have equally positive effects on happiness” (Rowland and Curry)

So, what are random acts of kindness?  

Generally random acts of kindness are an unexpected or unplanned act performed for another person, often a stranger. It can be something small, such as holding a door open for another person, or something on a grander scale like the anonymous man who recently paid the adoption fees for 237 animals at SCRAPS.

Want more stories of people being kind? BBC has an ongoing collection of Acts of Kindness stories.

A List of Kind Actions

These acts of kindness need not be expensive. In fact, they don’t need to cost a lot or anything at all. Here are some examples:

  • Picking up trash at your neighborhood park
  • Volunteering at a soup kitchen or other nonprofit
  • Writing a friendly note to a family member or friend. For the price of a stamp, you could help someone have a great day
  • Taking part in the Kindness Rocks program, painting imagery and motivational quotes on rocks and leaving them where others will find them
  • Donating clothes, blankets, and new toiletries to a shelter or other organizations providing help to those experiencing homelessness
  • Doing a household chore for a family member
  • Leaving some coins on the edge of a fountain for someone else to find and use to make a wish
  • Acknowledging when you see someone doing something well
  • Making eye contact and giving a smile to a stranger

Ideas & Inspiration from our Catalog

There are many ways to practice acts of kindness. Here are some books from our collection that can offer more ideas and inspiration:

Sometimes self-care can be low on a list of things to do. These titles help us remember to practice kindness toward ourselves:

I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the epitome of kindness himself: Mister Rogers.

Fred Rogers modeled kindness on all 912 episodes of his show, as well as in his everyday life. Even now, years after his death, he remains an iconic figure of what it means to be a good person and a positive contributor for creating a strong community in these modern times.

You can explore the kindness of Mister Rogers with these materials available in our collection:

Think back to the last time someone did something kind toward or for you. Did they hold a door open for you? Buy your coffee? Did they offer a friendly greeting or help you solve a problem? I hope you have received kindness recently.

Also, kindness leads to more kindness, so I encourage you to find moments to be kind to others and see the positivity multiply!

Abra Cole

Abra Cole works as a Public Services Specialist for Spokane County Library District. She enjoys engaging with library customers, including hearing about their favorite books, hearing about how their gardens are growing, and helping them solve technology troubles with personal mobile devices and the library’s 3D printer. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, expanding her fiber-arts skills, and hanging out in the woods with her family.

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