The Ripple Effect of Kindness


I love to watch what happens with there’s a ripple in water. A tiny little touch is all it takes to set off a series of circular ripples, spreading out wider and wider across the water.

I believe that kindness has a ripple effect. One little moment of kindness is all it takes to set off a series of kind actions.

Here’s an example. You’re in line to check out at the grocery store and you notice the cashier looks a bit down. What if you shared some of your positive energy with her? She might smile back and even feel better for a while. She might smile at the next customer, too, and ask them about their day.

You’ve danced on the surface of her world and started a ripple of kindness. You may have even started a movement! :)

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego and Harvard published a study that showed that kindness creates kindness. It’s contagious and just one act can create dozens more. The beautiful thing is that others will follow your example even though there is nothing they might gain from it. You influence the generosity of spirit in others around you and especially in the person who receives your kindness, who will pay it forward when he or she can.

What’s in it for us?

While there really doesn’t need to be anything in it for us (!), there’s a bonus because being kind makes us feel happier. It can be as simple as that, and if that is where it stopped, the world would still be a better place. But it goes much further.

Being kind changes us at a deeper level. The 2010 study found that the effect of our kindness persists within us and that "You don't go back to being your 'old selfish self.'''

Neuroscience has shown us that when we do something nice for another person, it triggers the release of the “love hormone” called oxytocin. This hormone boosts our ability to empathize with others and increases our desire to be generous. So, giving increases our desire to give again. Once we start giving, we feel so much pleasure that we want to repeat the experience.

What a satisfying way to create a kind world.

How big does your kindness need to be?

As with the water example, even a tiny touch can create wide spreading ripples. Sometimes a smile is enough to change the way we see the world. Sometimes just hunting for spare change to give to a person short of cash as she pays for her family’s weekly shopping is enough. All it takes is one person to start rifling through their pockets or their purse, even for a small snack, and you will see others in line begin to do the same as they decide to offer help, too. Imagine what effect that will have on the world as each of these people goes out into their day, predisposed to give again.

If you’ve ever wanted to make the world a better place but doubted that you could make enough impact, think again. Find just one person to give your kindness to, and then watch the ripples spread.

Please share your experience below with a kindness ripple effect below; we'd love to hear about it!

Nancie VitoComment