Paulette Brown-Hinds, PhD
Several years ago I wrote a column about how simple small acts of kindness can be contagious inspired by Random Acts of Kindness Day. It’s a concept I find myself returning to at the beginning of every year. A small act of kindness even once a day, I believe, is still a good New Year’s resolution.
Several years ago researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands conducted a study on the scent of joy and happiness and found that certain scents produced by our bodies can communicate happiness to others. It seems from their research that happiness has a distinct smell that humans can sense on one another, and induces “a simulacrum of happiness in the receivers” triggering a contagion of the emotional state.
Likewise, American researchers from Harvard University and the University of California who study behavioral contagions have found that emotions like generosity and altruism can be contagious. “When you’re doing good deeds,” Distinguished Professor Barbara Frederickson author of Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection says in her book, “you’re enticing a common feeling across two people, and that’s part of what knits a community together.”
I know the questions remain; can all the random acts of violence we experience be mitigated by random acts of kindness? Will our small acts of kindness spread and influence others with the same voracity with which violence seems to infect humanity? Can doing something nice for others with no expectations combat the hate acts and hate language that seems to be swirling all around us daily?
I think that if we spend every day being kind to those we know as well as those we don’t, we will see that there is already more good in the world than evil. We can become not only advocates for all that is good and kind and joyful, we can promote even more and help it to spread. A small act of kindness a day is the perfect resolution for 2018. Happy New Year and let it be one full of infectious kindness, happiness, and joy.