Have you ever scrabbled in your purse for change for the parking meter, only to have a complete stranger give you the right coins? Has someone stopped on a cold and rainy night to help you change a flat tire or baked you a cake because you were feeling low? We can all think of times when someone has been kind to us and the impact of kind actions can remain with us forever.

The film ‘Pay It Forward’ tells the story of a boy who devises an amazing idea to change the world. He performs three acts of kindness and requests that the recipients pass it on to others.The results are truly amazing.

We all know how great it feels when someone shows us a touch of kindness, but scientists are now discovering that being kind to others can benefit us as well.

Being kind is good for our bodies

The act of doing something kind causes hormonal changes in our bodies. It increases the levels of dopamine in our brains, giving us a heightened sense of well-being and greater self-confidence. Kindness also releases oxytocin, which has a beneficial impact on the vagus nerve, helping to reduce our blood pressure and keep our hearts healthy.

Being kind is good for our emotions

Naturally, being kind is also good for our emotions. Carrying out acts of kindness builds stronger relationships between people which improves our emotional health. Making the deliberate decision to be kind to others makes us happier too. In fact, scientists have discovered that merely thinking kind thoughts towards others is enough to increase our levels of happiness.

Kindness can be as simple as giving a stranger a helping hand or could involve an much longer term commitment that involves more of our time and energy.

Random acts of kindness

Look around you for occasions when you can offer kindness to someone you don’y know. It could be helping a young mom upstairs with her pushchair or perhaps letting someone in front of you in the supermarket queue. Why not sign up to the ‘Suspended Coffees’ scheme when you buy a cup of coffee in advance for someone who can’t afford it themselves?

Show kindness through a charity

Raising money for a good cause is a great way to show kindness. You could become a registered collector to raise money on the streets or perhaps take on a sponsored challenge to raise much-needed funds.

A longer term commitment

If you have more time to give,why not consider volunteering? You can use the skills you have to benefit others in your community. Sports coaching, hearing children read in your local school, or giving a talk to a local community group are all superb ways you can contribute and will be much appreciated.

Share your skills

Sharing the skills you have is a wonderful way to help people around you. If you’re mechanically minded you could help your buddy to service their car, saving a lot of money and cementing your relationship with them at the same time. Maybe you could use your computer expertise if your neighbor has a problem with their laptop? Or if you’re known for your green fingers, then why not give your friend a hand to keeping their yard looking beautiful?

Be a good neighbor

Of course you don’t have to have special skills in order to be kind to others. Baking a few cookies, walking your friend’s dog, or cooking a delicious home-made for a working mom, are all easy ways to show you care. For someone who lives alone, the simple act of dropping in for coffee and chat could make their day.

You can change the world!

A single act of kindness is like dropping a pebble in the pond. Being kind to people encourages them to be pass that kindness on, and you never know how far that impact will travel. Making the decision to show at least one person some practical kindness every day could transform your life and theirs. The poet Richard Dehmel said ‘a little kindness from person to person is better than a vast love for all humankind’.

So what can you do to show kindness towards someone today?