Kindness is the key to authentically being a better person. I want to teach you how to be a better person using a kindness challenge.

A Kindness Challenge: Completing random acts of kindness to spread happiness and gratitude to others.

And, guess what? Being nicer to others doesn’t only help them, it helps you!

A number of studies have found that being kind to others is the secret to living a fulfilling life.

As a result, we have infused kindness into everything we teach here at Science of People. It fuels nearly everything we do. Whether we’re creating content about body language, personality, helpful skills, or pieces to make your day a bit more interesting, our goal is to help you live a better, more successful life so you can be kind and share your knowledge, joy and success with the people around you.

To help show you how to be a better person I partnered with my friend Michelle Poler from Hello Fears. Michelle is not only one of the kindest people I know, she also did her own personal challenge of conquering 100 fears in a 100 days. She is both kind and courageous! One of her fears is talking to strangers. 

We decided to conquer her fear and spread more kindness at the same time by approaching dozens of people in New York City with a kindness challenge.

Now that you’ve seen our kindness challenge, I hope it inspires you to learn how to be a better person in your own life. Here are some ideas on how to be a better person:

How to Be Better with 20 Random Acts of Kindness Ideas

We know that life is busy so we divided this kindness challenge into three different ways to be nicer. Choose an idea from the list or create a challenge of your own. No matter what you do, be sure to share your acts of kindness on social media with #kindnesschallenge to encourage your friends to join in the challenge.

How to Be A Better Person in Five Minutes

If you’re tight on time, a five minute favor is the challenge for you. Here are a couple of quick ways you can be a better person:

1. Write someone a thank you card for a time when they were kind to you

2. Call your mom and tell her you love her

3. Make an introduction to two people who should know each other

4. Send someone flowers who would never expect it

5. Compliment a stranger who looks like they’re having a rough day

6. Pay for someone else’s meal

7. Bring your partner, roommate, parents, best friend, colleagues car to the car wash for them (or give it a quick clean yourself!)

Your turn: brainstorm other quick ways you can make someone’s day

How to Be Better in One Hour

If you really want to be better try committing to one hour of kindness. Here are some kindness ideas:

8. Write 5 nice recommendations on LinkedIn for people you have worked with

9. Update a public computer with a nice sticky note or to do list. Here’s an example of a list I created at my local Apple store:

science of kindness

10. Go write a glowing review of your favorite 5 books on Amazon

11. Start a Reciprocity Ring. A reciprocity ring is when you ask, share and provide resources to the people in your life.

Check out the one we started on Facebook:

science of kindness science of kindness

12. Go write a glowing review of your favorite restaurants on Yelp

13. Go buy someone coffee and ask them a deep conversation starter so they feel heard

14. Do extra chores so whoever you’re living with has one less thing to worry about

15. Make a meal for a friend or family member going through a difficult time

How to Be Better in One Day

This challenge is perfect for when you have a day off work and want to make a significant impact on someone’s life. Choose a cause that you feel passionate about and commit to spending the better part of a day serving it.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

16. Go volunteer at a shelter

17. Buy holiday gifts for a family in need

18. Use your work skills to offer free professional services to a nonprofit

19. Get together with a group of friends, coworkers or family to clean up a local park

20. Offer to babysit for a friend who is a single parent and rarely gets a break

In case you were wondering why kindness is so important — I have included all the amazing reasons you should be nicer.

Being nice benefits you too!

Why Kindness Rocks

For decades, researchers have wondered why humans are driven to be kind to one another. After all, we have survival instincts just like other animals, yet unlike most other creatures we happily invest our time, energy and resources in helping others when there is no obvious benefit for ourselves.

In their search to understand what fuels human compassion, they’ve discovered that engaging in acts of kindness provides several benefits that boost our overall well-being and help us cope with the stresses of everyday life.

Here are just a few of the ways research has shown that kindness can improve your life:

1. Kindness reduces the effects of stress

Next time you’re having a chaotic day, take a breather and do a random act of kindness. Studies have found that doing kind things for others, even if it’s as simple as holding a door open for a stranger or offering a couple minutes of help to a coworker, minimizes stressful emotions.

2. It improves your mood

Not only does being kind help alleviate your bad mood when you are stressed, it also helps you experience more positive emotions. Research has shown that doing random acts of kindness triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood stability and oxytocin, a hormone that makes you feel connected to other people. Combined, this has the effect of making you feel loved and emotionally stable when you are frequently kind to others.

3. Being better boosts your immunity

While stress has the unfortunate ability to make us get sick at the worst of times, engaging in acts of kindness has the opposite effect. Research has shown that being kind to others activates a part of the brain that boosts immunity.

4. Kindness is Contagious…being nice to others, helps them be nice to you!

In a 2008 study conducted by the University of California San Diego and Harvard University found that cooperative behavior can spread from one person to another and even to multiple people by mimicry and emotional contagion to cause a ripple effect of happiness. People can literally catch kindness! Furthermore, you don’t even have to witness these acts of kindness first hand.

The study found that the kindness spread to at least three degrees of separation.

How amazing is it that one little act of kindness can cascade through a social network to affect the lives of dozens and even hundreds of other people?!

The researchers wanted to see what moral elevation actually looked like so they measured the brain activity and heart rates of 104 college students while they watched videos showing either heroic acts of kindness or humorous situations.

Amazingly, while viewing the heroic acts, the participants had an unusual combination akin to the fight or flight response paired with a self-soothing response as activity in both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system peaked. Interestingly, nothing happened in the brain while they were watching the humorous videos.

This may be because viewing a compassionate act requires us to witness suffering, which enacts a stress response and activates the sympathetic nervous system. Then, once we see the suffering alleviated through an act of kindness, our heart feels calmed and the parasympathetic nervous system is activated.

5. Acts of kindness are the solution for social anxiety

If trying to develop new relationships makes you anxious, then kindness is your perfect conversation starter. Kindness can be one of the best ways to conquer your social anxiety. One of the biggest obstacles that prevents people from overcoming their social anxiety is that their anxiety causes them to make poor impressions, reinforcing their fears about interacting with people. One study found that when socially anxious people approach others with acts of kindness it helps them overcome their fears because when people receive acts of kindness, they usually respond with positivity. Over time, these positive interactions will make talking to people less nerve-wracking.

6. Being a better person increases your energy levels and confidence

There’s something thrilling and deeply satisfying about making other people happy. Those good vibes you get from other people’s gratitude and joy translates into some super helpful benefits for you. Studies show that being kind makes you more energetic and increases your sense of self-worth.

By now you’ve realized that being kind not only helps others but can also drastically improve your life as well. The question is, how do you begin living a life of kindness?

I can’t wait to see how you take on your kindness challenge! Let me know @Vvanedwards and be sure to use the #kindnesschallenge!

About Vanessa Van Edwards

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Lead Investigator, Science of People

I'm the author of the national bestselling book Captivate, creator of People School, and behavioral investigator.

I’ve always wanted to know how people work, and that’s what Science of People is about. What drives our behavior? Why do people act the way they do? And most importantly, can you predict and change behavior to be more successful? I think the answer is yes. More about Vanessa.

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