Kindness at Christmas

Think of the kindest person you ever met. How did you feel leaving them? Encouraged? Understood? Blessed? Turns out the benefits are so much more.

There is a science behind kindness. When a person sees someone doing something kind, they are more likely to “Pay it forward” and puts people in a good mood. Witnessing kind acts increases the production of oxytocin which lowers blood pressure and improves heart health. Kindness reduces pain perception, stress, anxiety, depression, increases energy. The people that initiate acts of kindness by volunteering or doing other charitable things live longer.

What does it do to us when people are kind to us? The best example I can think of this Christmas season is demonstrated in the character of Mr. Rogers played spectacularly by Tom Hanks in “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” in theaters now. Mr. Rogers is portrayed as a man who functioned on a different wave length than most of us. His very first response to almost all situations and difficult people was to be kind. Most of us can’t even relate to that.

There is a scene in the movie where Mr. Rogers rides the subway with a journalist. The subway riders recognize him immediately and begin singing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood”. He is gracious and complimentary. He radiated kindness and because to that, people were drawn to him. I’m not going to tell you anymore about the movie except that you must see it. It’s truly is inspiring.

We must always strive to be kind. Kindness is one of the most powerful acts a person can do. Try it and see how it works.

Here are 5 ways to be kind this Christmas season:

1. Pay for someone’s groceries in line before you. If you can’t swing that financially, pay for someone’s coffee. Be prepared for the giant smiles and the disbelief that there actually are good people in the world.

2. When someone is grumpy, respond in a positive way. Super hard but doable. Exercising self-control will make you proud and might cheer the Christmas Grouch.

3. Give a stranger a few dollars – or more if you have it. The Salvation Army volunteers have collected in their red kettles for decades. The money collected goes to food and other necessities for the homeless and less fortunate.

4. Work at a soup kitchen. When you serve a meal to needy men and women you get to see how much others struggle and do without. It’s very humbling. You’ll leave feeling exceeding grateful for your blessings. You’ll also leave with a feeling that more must be done and you made a difference.

5. Food shop for a family in need. Ring the doorbell and see the gratitude and excitement.

There are many other ways to express kindness. Come up with your own idea and see what happens. Kindness is contagious. This Christmas be a kind soul and spread it around.

Merry Christmas!