Harnessing the Power of Kindness

Feb 7, 2023 | Life at Park Place

February 17this Random Acts of Kindness Day, but did you know it’s part of a whole Random Acts of Kindness Week? The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation was created in Denver, Colorado, in 1995 as a program to promote better relationships between classmates and coworkers. Since then, Random Acts of Kindness has blossomed into a yearly holiday. The mission is simply to encourage paying acts of generosity forward.

Examples of a Random Act of Kindness can include paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line, baking cookies for coworkers or offering to run an errand for a neighbor. Anything you can do to brighten someone else’s day benefits everyone.

Being nice to people is important, but you can also brighten your mood by simply smiling! Just the act of turning that frown upside down triggers your brain to produce hormones that help put you in a better mood. And that’s just the beginning.

Being kind is good for you

Showing kindness to others makes you feel good about yourself and raises your self-esteem, which is a key part of good emotional wellness. Practicing empathy and compassion with yourself and others has also been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease your body’s production of cortisol—the stress hormone. It’s just one more easy way to live a longer, happier life.

Another way being kind to others helps improve your emotional wellness is that it can lead to more invitations from people to take part in group activities, which helps you feel a deeper sense of community. It also helps combat feelings of loneliness, which is a growing (mental and physical) health concern for seniors around the world.

Don’t want to wait for an invitation? Invite yourself by volunteering in your community. A recent review in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that of the almost 13,000 participants in a health and retirement study, those who volunteered for about 100 hours annually (less than two hours per week) experienced a reduced risk of mortality, reduced risk of cognitive decline and a stronger sense of purpose. It’s a powerful way to feel part of a community. You can seek opportunities to do good through nonprofit foundations, religious organizations and other local programs.

If you’re a Park Place of Elmhurst resident and enjoy working with students, you’ll love being a part of our partnership with Timothy Christian Schools. As one student said, “There’s a person there who has always supported me and helped me achieve my goals, especially in my transition from high school to college. She’s become an extremely important person in my life.”

It’s more than just theory—being kind really is healthier. It can physiologically change your brain chemistry. Being kind to someone boosts production of serotonin and dopamine, the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals that stimulate its reward/pleasure centers and lead to feelings of well-being. Endorphins are also released when we show kindness toward others or experience an act of kindness from someone else. Making others smile triggers a chain reaction in your body that’s great for mental health.

Everyday ways to start practicing kindness

Not sure where to start? Start with author Gary Chapman’s five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time and physical touch. Just knowing what the love languages are will help you devise ideas about how to make someone’s day and improve your relationships. Just start with what you know—if receiving a compliment makes your day, try paying a compliment to a stranger. You’ll be amazed.

Seeing the world from someone else’s point of view is the basis of empathy. Compassion and understanding are all parts of living in a more connected world. When you look outside yourself, you’ll find unlimited opportunities to enrich the lives of others. Even a relatively small gesture of goodwill can make a huge difference.

Live where kindness matters

At Park Place of Elmhurst, acts of kindness aren’t random, and they happen every day of the year. Part of what makes life here so inviting and inclusive are the little contributions our residents make by smiling and greeting each other in the halls. Even the Park Place postal carrier has friends she looks forward to chatting with while delivering the mail.

Mary’s story highlights how one Park Place resident made her feel welcome almost from the day she moved in. She’d been concerned that making friends would be difficult, but those concerns were quickly put to rest. “The very first person I met was my friend Joanne, and she said to me, ‘My door’s open, whatever you need: screwdrivers, scissors, just come in and get what you need.’ And I really did!” Mary laughed. “Everybody was so welcoming. I couldn’t believe it; I felt like I was walking into my old sorority house!”

As we approach Random Acts of Kindness Day, think about ways you can make a difference in someone’s life. The answer is easy—just think about something nice you’d like someone to do for you and pay that forward, even if it’s just as simple as saying please and thank you or smiling.

At Park Place of Elmhurst, kindness is one of our core values. If you’re thinking of joining a community where it’s a way of life, call one of our (very kind) Life Care counselors today at 630-936-4504.