03-25-2019  5:45 pm      •     
Man helping woman up in a blizzard
Melissa Martin, Ph.D.
Published: 14 February 2019

“Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind,” proclaimed Henry James.

Random Acts of Kindness Day is February 17, 2019. Help your family, friends, and co-workers get excited about Random Acts of Kindness Day. There are scientifically proven benefits to being kind. It is contagious, teachable, and makes you feel all fuzzy inside. Check out a video featuring the science of kindness below. Read a plethora of kindness stories, and view free downloads of the Kindness in the Classroom curriculum at www.randomactsofkindness.org.

The Health Benefits of Kindness

Research has shown that doing deeds of kindness triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that abets mood stability and increases oxytocin, a hormone that makes you feel connected to others; boosts immunity; and reduces the effects of stress. 

My grandma Hila showed kindness with food. She cooked homemade meals for family; gave garden vegetables to neighbors and strangers; and fed stray dogs. My grandma Lyde gave quarters to the children at church to put in the collection plate; gave away crocheted doilies, and voluntarily painted the former Hillcrest Children’s Home. I am grateful for kind grandmothers. 

Being Kind to Annoying People

Doing deeds of kindness and giving kind compliments comes more effortlessly when we are in the company of family or friends. Being kind to appreciative strangers warms the heart when they response with gratitude. But what about showing kindness to annoying or self-absorbed people? There are those who consider kindness to be weakness and may try to take advantage. Showing kindness is not about being a doormat or allowing others to manipulate you.

“It's not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not.

"We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, even - or rather, especially - when we'd prefer not to be,” affirmed Josh Radnor.

Nonetheless, in today’s world, people can be suspicious when we offer deeds of kindness, compliments, or praise. So we need to balance caring with caution. But a lack of showing kind deeds due to fear of other humans is an excuse.

Kindness Day in Your County and City

How will you show kindness to others on February 17? And the other 364 days of 2019?

Think about what deeds of kindness you can do in your area. Give blood. Read to an elderly person at a nursing home. Clean out your closet and donate gently used coats and gloves. Sign up as an organ donor on your driver’s license. Give eye contact and smile when you talk to children. Be kind to furry friends by donating pet food to the local food pantry. Send notes of gratitude to city and county leaders, nonprofit organizations, and school board members.

A few of my small kindness deeds this year includes:

  • Sending an email to Gov. Mike DeWine and thanking him for creating a new position— Director of Children’s Initiatives for Ohio and for his campaign promises of expanding early childhood education, increasing access to mental health services, and reforming the foster care system.
  • I will daily turn off the water when brushing my teeth to show kindness to planet Earth.
  • Honking and waving at the employees who dance and hold signs for businesses outside in the cold.

Kindness is in the little and the big things we do for others. And let’s be especially kind to oldsters, children, and animals. Celebrate kindness day!

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, and educator. She lives in Ohio.

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