BART’s on strike in San Francisco, which meant that I had to face my fear of road biking if I wanted to get to work.
As I nervously cycled on busy rush hour streets for the first time, Brian pedaled up next to me at a stoplight on Mission Street.
He noticed my naiveté–easy to spot since I actually stopped at red lights–and befriended me. He taught me how to use my gears as we waited for the light to turn green. Brian then helped me navigate obstacles like parked cars in bike lanes and trolley tracks for 2.5 miles until I reached the @liftapp office.
People on Lift have performed 2,840 Random Acts of Kindness just like Brian did this morning, which left me wondering,what causes people to be so kind?
Performing acts of kindness increases our happiness and creates positive feedback loops that encourage us to do more good deeds.
Researchers at the University of Kent asked study participants to do one of three things–an act of kindness, a new activity, or none at all–over a ten day period. People who performed a good deed reported increased levels of life satisfaction.
The groups that practiced kindness and engaged in novel acts both experienced a significant—and roughly equal—boost in happiness; the third group didn’t get any happier.(Source)
Other research has revealed that giving to charity lights up the reward centers in your brain and that acts of giving can create positive feedback loops that encourage people to give again. A whole wealth of research (and debate) identifies reciprocal altruism as a beneficial trait tied to evolution.
It might seem like a lot of work to perform a good deed everyday, but scrolling through the activity in the Random Act of Kindness habit shows you that it just takes something simple – sharing a smile, a meal, or something you already have, like knowledge of how to ride a bike.
How to start building this habit:
Right Now: Find a way to be kind to a person next to you – smile or give them a compliment. Or even easier – give a stranger a prop on Lift!
Image © CC Jenny Durfey on Flickr