A great way to give thanks for the blessing you have received is to pay it forward through small acts of giving. There is something wonderful about spreading kindness and it makes a great family project. Generally speaking children are naturally compassionate and often want to help when they see a need. Planning and carrying out an act of kindness with children gives you the chance to affirm their generous nature. It also makes the world a better place and that is always a good thing. If they are your children, your siblings, or friends, or other family, teach the children young about helping and giving.
With all due respect to karma, a lifetime's an awfully long time to wait to have your best intentions rewarded with a shiny gold star. Luckily, you don't have to wait: The benefits of charity and compassion are powerful and immediate. You've seen it on the bus, when someone offers his or her seat to an elderly person: The generous person feels noble, the elderly person beams with gratitude, and even spectators feel like cheering inside just from having witnessed a simple act of kindness. As it turns out, the effects of those experiences aren't just psychological. Those who study the science of do-gooding have discovered that performing (or even just imagining performing) a good deed has major physiological benefits — for the giver, not just the recipient. Naturally, we don't behave in benevolent ways to benefit from our actions...but just between us, the side effects are awesome.
David R. Hamilton, Ph.D., is a chemist who left a career developing cardiac and cancer drugs to do research that led to studying the health benefits of kindness and happiness. Hamilton says that performing a kind act releases oxytocin — the same brain chemical that surges when you hold your baby or snuggle a dog — which also temporarily lowers blood pressure. "Kindness is literally good for your heart," explains Hamilton.
What does oxytocin do in the body? Greater amounts of oxytocin hormone levels appear to be associated with greater relaxation, more willingness to trust others, and general psychological stability. It appears to help us reduce our stress response and reduce general anxiety in people when it is produced.
Nearly a hundred years ago, aviator Amelia Earhart observed, "A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees." Her inspiring words were borne out by the results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed how a single altruistic kidney donation set off a domino effect, resulting in 10 successive transplants.
Let's take a look at some of the simple, kind gestures that can make all the difference to someone not just at the Holidays, but would be sure to make someone's day during this holiday season: This list is by no means complete, but they are ten ways to do something that could make someone's day, or even remember what you chose to do, and they might follow suit, and perform and act to someone else.
1-Make Thanksgiving cookies or treats and drop them off at the firehouse, police station, or hospital. It is a lovely way to acknowledge those who serve the community during the holidays.
2-Challenge your family to think of people who do things that are easily overlooked. These might include a cashier, mail carrier, or garbage collector. Write a thank you message to say that you are thankful for their service. Find a way to deliver the notes.
3-Shower the pediatric wing of a hospital with $1 coloring books and $2 boxes of new crayons.
4-Drop off combs, toothbrushes, and toothpaste at a shelter or a soup kitchen.
5-Take kindness on the road: Pay the toll for the car behind you.
6-Donate old cell phones to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ncadv.org), which will use the proceeds for programs that protect families from abuse.
7-Check "yes" when asked if you wish to become an organ donor — and tell your family.
8- Offer your mail carrier a glass of iced tea or a $5 Starbucks gift card.
9-1. Visit a nearby senior’s home and help bring some holiday joy by delivering flowers to patients who don’t have any visitors.
10-Forgive someone. Repeat as necessary.
Researcher Stephen Post of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine serves as president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, which conducts and funds research on altruism, compassion and service. His research shows that when we give of ourselves, especially if we start young, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced and well-being and good fortune are increased.
I hope we can all take just a small amount out of our time during this week of Thanksgiving to help someone else, it will increase your spirits, while helping others, and also help to decrease your stress and anxiety. Happy Holidays! Peace!