In today’s post I wanted to talk about the little acts of kindness that we have opportunity for, from time to time. Helping someone with the groceries, stopping our car to let an elderly pass, letting our neighbor borrow eggs or milk, smiling at a passer-by are some examples. Why we choose not to do something? Because we think these are small acts, not doing them might not have an effect. But what do we know? We don’t realize the ripple effect of one small act of kindness. Our one smile might make the day of a stranger. The elderly lady might give us loads of duas if we help her with carrying her groceries. One empathetic sentence might save someone from suicide.
Also read: Volunteering, Why and How?
The Little Acts
A famous hadith tells us about the reward for giving water to a thirsty dog.
Allah had once forgiven a prostitute. She passed by a dog panting near a well. Seeing that thirst had nearly killed him, she took off her shoe, tied it to her scarf, and drew up some water. Allah forgave her for that.Bukhari
Also read: Giving Makes you Happier and Health
What does Research say?
This hadith is a reminder of why we shouldn’t belittle any act of kindness however big or small. And every opportunity of helping someone, being kind to them should be taken advantage of. A research shows that consistently being kind increases life satisfaction. According to another study acts of kindness boosts happiness and well-being. In this study, subjects were assigned to do acts of kindness over period of 7 days and regardless of who the receiver was, someone whom the subject had close ties with or weak ties or a complete stranger or one’s own self, all show increase in happiness.
Abu Dharr (RA) narrated: The Prophet (SAW) said to me: “Do not disdain any good deed, even if it is meeting your brother with a cheerful face.”Muslim
Only meeting someone with a cheery face is a good deed in Islam which according to hadith shouldn’t be considered less. Just think of the times when anyone met you with a positive mood and attitude. What did you feel after meeting them? Happy, energized, positive, uplifted? Yes, because happiness is contagious. This is backed by data and findings.
We often equate change to big slogans, not realizing that the circle of influence we already have whether it is work, school or home, needs us. One individual can bring change in his circle by taking small steps in the right direction, by being kind, by being happy, by being there.
So, the next time you have an opportunity to do an apparently little deed which will be helpful to someone else, just go for it!
- Kathryn E. Buchanan & Anat Bardi (2010) Acts of Kindness and Acts of Novelty Affect Life Satisfaction, The Journal of Social Psychology, 150:3, 235-237, DOI: 10.1080/00224540903365554
- Lee Rowland & Oliver Scott Curry (2019) A range of kindness activities boost happiness, The Journal of Social Psychology, 159:3, 340-343, DOI: 10.1080/00224545.2018.1469461
- Kaplan, K. (2008 Dec 5). Happiness is contagious, research finds. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved form http://www.fresnocohousing.org/pdfs/happiness-research-lat.pdf