The other day I held the door open for an older gentleman while getting gas. The poor guy was clearly having a hard time walking and when I got to the door, he was still a solid 20 or 30 steps away…
I didn’t mind, so I decided to hold the door for him until he made it all the way inside. As the old man got closer and closer he looked at me with a gaze of bewilderment. When I noticed he looked confused, I simply put a big fat smile on my face and said, “After you sir, I’m in no rush.”
When he finally made it to the door, tired and out of breath, he looked me in the eyes, grabbed my arm and said “Thank you so much young man, you’ve just made my day.” As he and I walked into the gas station I couldn’t help but notice a smile on this old man’s face that extended from ear to ear.
Later that night on my way home from work, I remember thinking to myself "Damn I hope something as small as someone holding the door open for me makes my day when I’m that old.” It was astonishing to me that something that small could make that much of a difference for someone.
So, the next day I set out on a mission to see if this one old man was the rule or the exception. Every time I had a chance to hold a door or an elevator for someone, I took it. And I did so with a sincere smile on my face.
At first I felt a little silly standing there holding a door open for people I didn’t know, stupidly smiling. A few of the people I encountered didn’t help my neurotic tendencies and looked at me like I was crazy for simply holding the door and smiling at a stranger.
But it didn’t bother me too much so I pressed on and continued to hold the door for as many strangers as I could!
Here’s what’s crazy…
After a few looks of confusion and serious concern for my mental health, I noticed something remarkable. Even if the person I held the door for thought I was crazy, it still made ME feel better to do something nice for someone other than myself!
With this little insight I decided to really push my kindness experiment to the next level throughout the next several days. At work I took every chance I could to compliment someone on a job well done. I also helped people on work-related projects without any expectation of a “favor” in return. At home I told my wife she looked pretty more often and texted a few friends to just say hello and wish them well.
By the end of my little experiment that week I was absolutely convinced that being kind to other people made me a happier person. Everything from my relationships to the life-long narratives that I told myself about “Who I am” had changed—and changed for the better!
Here is a crazy scientifically tested fact for you…
We have the power to positively impact the day of three strangers by performing one simple act of kindness!
In other words, when you do something nice for someone else it causes a ripple effect. The science shows that by holding the door open for that older gentleman, I was able to extend kindness to him which in turn makes him more likely to extend kindness to another stranger and thus, the cycle repeats itself—all the way to the 3rd degree of separation from the original act of kindness.
This is incredible!
That means holding the door open for one stranger can improve the day of three other people I've never met! Imagine if everyone did one nice thing for someone every day.
What would our society look like then? Do you think we would be kinder, happier and healthier?
Probably! Because the miracle of kindness doesn’t stop there!
Other scientific research shows that by doing something kind and NOT expecting anything in return our body's release chemicals like Dopamine, Oxytocin and Nitric Acid that help reduce inflammation and free-radicals in our bodies and can lead to a healthier heart and a slowdown in the aging process…
Meaning, by being nice to others we can live longer, be healthier, look younger AND make the world a better place!
So here is my question to you:
Why the hell wouldn’t you start being nice to people?!?!
The truth is that you have nothing to gain from being mean and you have everything to gain from being nice and benevolent towards others.
If the thought of being nice to strangers seems a little too “woo woo” for you, then do it for yourself! Be as nice as you can be to other people for your own sake—not theirs.
I hope that after reading this blog you see how even the smallest act of kindness can have a profound effect on us and the world at large. I implore you to try to do at least ONE nice thing a day for a stranger for one week and let me know how it makes you feel!
I look forward to hearing from you and until next time,
Many many blessing!