I dare you
I dare you to watch this video and not feel inspired.
(And I don't mean by how buff the construction worker is.)
Created by the organization Life Vest Inside, this is a beautiful display of how compassion, human connection, and selfless understanding inspire good in the world. Amid chaos, violence, hunger, and disease, there is love, and people care about each other.
When we act from this love, the ripple effect is immeasurable.
As you watch the video, you see each person affected by the kindness shown to them. At first, they are hesitant because of our cultural belief that we are separate and can't trust each other. Then a subtle smile sneaks onto each face, and eventually warmth fills their hearts and lifts their spirits. This effect is amplified as they reach out and, in turn, help another.
On the last day of a yoga and drumming retreat,
our group of drummers was rocking out with total exuberance and abandon. It was exhilarating to see how much they had grown in skill, confidence, and inner and outer bliss in just a few days.
A man I didn't know snuck into the room and sat down to listen. He closed his eyes and gently rocked his body to the rhythm, a peaceful smile on his face.
As leaders of these workshops, it's our job to check in with wanderers and protect the intimacy and privacy of the registered program group. But this guy was in such a sweet spot, I couldn't disturb him.
After a few minutes, he approached me, as Shaun continued leading the group. He asked if he could join our drum circle. In these situations, we usually explain that we're really sorry, but it's a registered program, and it's only fair to the group if we keep it to those who signed up and paid for this program. But, instead, I found myself saying, "Yes! Sure! Here's an extra drum and a chair." He played with us for about 10 minutes, and the group welcomed him with their smiles and warmth.
At the end of the day, the man left us a note that read, "Thank you for letting me join your group. My brother drowned last week in a fishing accident and was found at the bottom of 60 feet of water. I've been drawn to the sound of your drums all weekend. When I drummed along with your group, it was the first time since losing my brother that I was able to talk to him."
My heart broke for this man who had lost his brother so tragically and unexpectedly a few short days ago. At the same time, I was so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to help him heal in some small way. By simply letting him drum with us, we were able to give him the gift of feeling his brother's presence, and I got the gift of knowing that, in playing my tiny part, I had made a difference.
The gladness I felt in my heart (and still feel) for being part of that moment, for being in that place and time to share my passion for drumming, is simply overwhelming.
Along with feeling good when I help someone, I find the science behind helping others fascinating.
The "helper’s high" we get from lending a hand has measurable effects on our happiness and our mental and physical health. I love this stuff!
Check it out:
- Helping others significantly improves immune function and increases serotonin (a neurotransmitter in the brain that increases feelings of well-being) whether you are the giver, receiver, or observer of an act of kindness. This means you'll benefit by simply watching the video I share here. Amazing! Further, researchers in the field of Positive Psychology have found that the benefits of doing something nice for someone else last longer than the benefits of doing something for yourself.
- Regularly performing acts of kindness alleviates stress, chronic pain, and insomnia. I’d choose that over pharmaceuticals any day.
- Volunteering decreases mortality. Research shows that people 65 and older who spend time volunteering are half as likely to die in the next five years (after accounting for factors like physical health, exercise, gender, and smoking). Half as likely to die! This finding has been repeated many times—it's not just a fluke. Astounding!
- Helping others increases feelings of strength, energy, and calmness. Yes!
- Helping others decreases anxiety and depression. Throw the Prozac out the window.
- Teenagers who volunteer have higher self-esteem, and are less likely to fail a subject in school, get pregnant, or abuse substances. Amen.
- Helping others makes you happier. In one study, people were 7% happier when they volunteered monthly, 12% happier when they volunteered every two to four weeks, and 16% happier when they volunteered weekly. That's the same jump in happiness as people show when their income goes from $20,000 to $75,000.
- Simply imagining helping someone increases feel-good chemicals in the brain. People who were monitored via MRI showed heightened activity in the mesolimbic pathway of the brain (associated with the release of dopamine and serotonin, which increase feelings of joy and peace) when they simply thought about giving a gift to a particular charity.
That's an impressive list of benefits that are so easy to reach.
Now, my challenge for you:
For the next 14 days, commit to one act of kindness each day. Make it something that fits well into your life, so it doesn't create stress or strain.
Here are some ideas:
Perform a random act of kindness, like letting the person behind you go first in the grocery line or paying for a stranger's coffee.
- Ask someone how they’re doing, showing genuine interest in their response and truly listening.
- Send a text or e-mail, complimenting or encouraging the recipient, or thanking them for something you appreciate. It can be short and sweet.
- Help a neighbor or friend with a task when they aren't expecting it.
There are endless possibilities—find what resonates with you.
Then, keep a simple journal of your 14 days of kindness. At the end of each day, write down what you did to reach out to someone. If you want to benefit even more, expand on how it made you feel and any other reflections that come up for you (research also shows that recounting a positive experience from the past 24 hours positively affects the happiness center of the brain).
And please share in the comments below!
What did you think of the video? How will you implement the 14 days of kindness? Any other thoughts? I love to hear from you!
Always with love and gratitude,
- What we get when we give "https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/raising-happiness/201002/what-we-get-when-we-give"