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Simple Acts Of Kindness Can Improve Our Well-Being, Research Says

Simple Acts Of Kindness Can Improve Our Well-Being, Research Says

Life becomes hectic and gets in the way sometimes.  We are too busy and have too much on our plate. Life unexpectedly throws a curve ball here and there.  However, did you know that a simple act of kindness can bring you peace and joy into your life?

Research shows that random acts of kindness not only boosts your physical health but also helps you to maintain positive outlook on life.

What’s more, it doesn’t have to be grand or expensive. By nature, we are hard-wired for love and compassion. We genuinely feel good when we give, help or contribute without expectation of reciprocation of acknowledgement. It can create a powerful ripple effect that people continue to pay forward what they have received. Thus, kindness is a win-win which brightens our community as a whole.

So, why not start today? Make kindness a daily habit. Make a difference in your life and someone else’s. Besides, kindness is contagious. What goes around comes around. It is particularly true with kindness. Show your kindness in any given moment, at any place and with anyone. They will remember your generosity and they will turn around and spread kindness to others as well. It will also be an excellent opportunity to teach your children to do the same and grow up to be kind adults.

While there are plenty of simple things we can do without breaking a sweat, and yet are easy to forget to practice, start with these 15 simple acts of kindness you can do today, tomorrow and everyday. They will certainly make your day and someone else’s.

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1. Put on a smile

One of most attractive trait in a person is a nice friendly smile. Saying hello with a smile makes you approachable and a good impression.  Smiles can open the door for you to make more friendly friends and expand your social circles.

2. Show your love

We value relationships more than material things in life. According to Maya Angelou, people will never forget how we made them feel. So make them feel loved, especially the ones who are dear to you.  Check out The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman if you want to learn more on how to express love.

3. Forgive

Forgiveness is not an easy task. It takes courage and sometimes a lot of time and practice. However, forgiving with empathy is part of being kind to someone, especially the one who wronged you and hurt you in some way. Also, be kind to yourself and forgive your mistakes. Self-love is to treat you with such kindness that you don’t allow anger, resentment or negativities in your life.

4. Open the door or hold an elevator

We live in a world where everything needs to be rushed through. Holding doors for others seems to be simply cultural practices in our society.  However, we do it not because it’s customarily expected but because it’s our intention to help others to minimize the collective effort that needs to be spent on daily tasks, which ultimately makes everyone’s life a bit easier.

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5. Bring a cup of joe for a colleague

A simple gesture like bringing a cup of coffee for someone in the morning will make their day.  A little consideration like this will foster their productivity at work while promoting the relationship which in turn will make your workplace friendly and kinder place.

6. Give up your seat at the waiting room, on the train or bus

The next time you are traveling by bus or in a public place, offer your seat to an elderly person. This is a great way to show your respect for the elderly. Perhaps there is a pregnant woman or a child struggling to stay standing on a moving vehicle. Offer your seat to someone who needs it every time you have the opportunity.

7. Give a hand to someone who needs help with something heavy

When you see a woman struggling to walk up stairs with kids and heavy bags, help her. Even the smallest act of service is rewarding and joyful. You wouldn’t want your wife or sister struggling without anyone’s help, would you?

8. Let someone merge during traffic

We all get frustrated in traffic at one time or another. One additional car in front of you isn’t going to make you arrive any earlier or later than you already would have been. So the next time someone is waiting to merge, be the kind person and let him in.

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9. Offer a babysitting to a friend

Parenting is the most rewarding job and at the same time overwhelming. Offer to babysit for a friend or neighbor, especially a single parent who doesn’t get much help. This simple support will give a parent a break to recharge and relax a bit which will also benefit the child.

10. Bake cookies for your new neighbour

Well, it doesn’t have to be baked-cookies. You can offer a cold glass of water to a neighbor who’s trimming a tree in a hot summer day. Paying a visit with a bright smile or inviting them over for a tea would make them feel safe and welcomed.

11. Bring a cup of chicken soup to a sick person

We remember how we’ve felt when someone took care of us when we were sick. Show them you care and offer help when needed. This will lift his spirit up.  In addition, it will make both his stomach and his heart warm and fuzzy.

12. Don’t interrupt when someone is talking

Pay attention to what the other person is saying. Active listening is not only an act of kindness but also a skill that we can benefit from improving. You will have more chance to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings.

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13. Fix Something for someone else

If someone needs to have something fixed or put together, and you are handy with these sorts of things, it’s the perfect opportunity to offer your skills. Surprisingly, you may enjoy some fun doing it together. The bonus is the more you put your skill into practice the better you will get at it.

14. Give compliments

As words have the power to both heal and destroy, a nice compliment can reinforce their value in the world. With genuine compliments, you let them know they are noticed. So, speak kindly and give them a little gift of appreciation.

15. Say yes to a donation request

Making a donation doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars or hard work at Habitat for humanity. It can be a $1 donation to a local shelter or a can of soup for your local food bank. It won’t break your wallet. Imagine there’s someone out there smiling when they receive what you gave.

So, what’s in your kindness jar today?

More by this author

Kris Lee

Emotional health and communication writer

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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