by Jesse Collier

If you’re looking for a reason to celebrate World Kindness Day, we have great news. There’s good science to back up the practice of kindness, and it’s been shown to have a slew of positive effects on people’s bodies and minds.

A study published in Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science demonstrated that people who deliberately practiced kindness experienced a 23% drop in levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Another study, this one found in Biological Psychology, showed that the oxytocin that’s released when people give or receive kindness has powerful effects on health. It lowers blood pressure and even slows people’s heart rates.

What’s more, the benefits of kindness extend beyond the people giving and receiving the act. Even those who observe others practicing kindness benefit emotionally and physically. It’s not just a greeting-card sentiment; the kindness you share really does change the world around you.

If all of this sounds like a breath of fresh air, here are eight suggestions of how you can celebrate World Kindness Day.

1. Call a loved one to share why they’re special to you.

You may talk to the people you love often, but do you tell them how important they are to you, and why? Just a simple statement about how much they mean to you can be a huge gift.

2. Talk to children about kindness.

Have a conversation with the children in your life about what kindness means to them. Perhaps you can come up with a shared plan to spread kindness in the world.

3. Compliment someone.

Whether it’s a colleague or a family member, people love to hear the things you admire about them. A comment about how great their sense of humor is or how helpful they are can provide a big lift in someone’s day.

4. Give up your seat on the bus or train.

Do you owe your seat to someone? Usually not. But if you are comfortable standing for a while, you can make someone else’s commute a lot more restful and happy.

5. Take a friend or partner out.

This gives you two benefits: you get to spend time with someone you care about, and you can also treat them to a special moment. If a dinner out is more time or money than you can afford right now, just a cup of coffee or decadent dessert can show how much you value them.

6. Compliment your colleague to their boss.

It only takes a minute to send an email, praising someone’s great work, but it can send a powerful message about how much you value their contribution.

7. Volunteer with a nonprofit.

There are organizations that champion just about any cause you care about. Whether you’re passionate about providing resources for the unhoused, caring for animals in shelters, or providing food to hungry people, connecting with a nonprofit that shares your values is a great way to make an impact in your community.

8. Pick up some litter.

Not all acts of kindness have to take a lot of time or effort. While you certainly can spend a day in the park with trash bags and gloves, collecting every stray piece of trash, you can also just scoop up an errant coffee cup on your way into a building.

Remember that what you do doesn’t have to be dramatic to matter. You can take satisfaction in the small efforts you make to improve the lives around you, and know that you’re giving yourself and others a gift at the same time.

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