One Small Thing

There is a lot to be said about small acts of kindness – or the simple things that we can do for others, whether it’s people we know or just someone who could benefit from our help, on any given day. This post takes a look at how this one small thing can have huge impact not only on the context and community around you, but also interestingly, positive benefits for your health and wellbeing as well.

I was reminded of this just last week, when, a complete stranger stuck out his hand and helped me hail a cab after what had been a really long day at work. That simple act transformed the heaviness of my day into a feeling of lightness and gratitude. As I sat in the cab , re-energised, I also felt connected with a sense of faith in humanity – that there are good people out there who are willing to step outside of what is expected of them, or even asked of them – to lend a hand to someone JUST BECAUSE. From psychological standpoint, this simple experience has quite a significant bearing and multiple benefits as:

(1) It improved my overall mood and energy levels

(2) It increased my sense of safety and security in the world around me

(3) It would have sent a dose of ‘feel-good’ chemicals (such as dopamine) through my cab-hailers brain

(4) It made me feel like doing something nice for someone else

Infact, in research conducted by The Institute of Heartmath , altruistic acts or acts of kindness have been linked with increased longevity and also better overall mental and emotional health. Infact, wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better overall health, even among the sick and elderly. Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, demonstrated similar results when she asked people to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks. In his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University, reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis.

In addition to the health and emotional benefits, acts of kindness also promote a greater sense of collaboration, connection and co-operation in the community. In a world that is increasingly moving away from a more competitive, individually-oriented focus to one that thrives on connection and group synergy, I think this is one small thing that we really need to start paying attention to more. In small towns , it’s never uncommon to experience a good ‘neighbourly’ act of kindness – and this engenders a deep sense of inter-connectedness , support and safety in amongst it’s people. Imagine what it would be like if we could bring this same attitude and approach to a larger city context.

Thrust together, jostling and trying to build our lives in this dynamic, bustling landscape – I ve noticed one of the nice things in Hongkong is that many people here do seem to acknowledge the sense that we’re all in this together – and that we can and should reach out a helping hand when we can in this small-town-big-town of sorts. Its one of the things I love the most about living here and also one of the reasons I think people here feel theres a ‘sense of possibility’, optimism and are empowered to live creatively. Its powerful stuff – all those feel-good hormones swimming around everywhere! So this month- my challenge to you is to go out there , get on the bandwagon if you haven’t already, and do one small thing for someone else – and think about how this makes you feel afterwards and the impact that act probably had on their life. And if you have time – write to me, I want to hear your stories!


References, Altruism : A Remedy For Stress, The Institute of HeartMath. , 5 Ways Giving Is Good For You, Jason Marsh and Jill Suttle.

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