Can random acts of kindness actually improve our well-being?

Can random acts of kindness actually improve our well-being?

One of the key characteristics of kindness is giving something without expecting anything in return. Although most of us do give regularly, anything from smaller to bigger gestures, do we actually do that without wanting anything back? Not even recognition? Or a thank you? I truly believe that when we are honest with ourselves and with each other, that a vast majority of us do have some kind of expectation. Even if it is just the fact that the person we have done something for knows that we have done it. And although it might not make such a big difference in a practical sense, it just might when it comes to your well-being.


Let’s first have a look at what random acts of kindness actually are and how they can enhance our well-being. Random acts of kindness - often abbreviated as RAKs - are simply you showing up with the best version of yourself and doing something nice for someone without any notion of reciprocity. The thing that makes this sentiment ‘random’ is the idea that you can be kind to random people that you do not know at all or not that well, or that the act of being kind doesn’t have to be planned but can be spontaneous. In the end RAKs come about when you choose to do something for someone else purely because you want to help and support and feel motivated by warm and fuzzy feelings.


And even though we all know the expression “it is better to give than receive”, it is also valuable to know that this notion is actually backed by science. Several scientific fields and disciplines from psychology, sociology, philosophy, economics, public health to human ecology - just to name a few - conduct research on well-being. And even though there is no one true definition of well-being there are certain aspects that all disciplines agree on when it comes to what well-being constitutes:

the presence of positive emotions;
the absence of negative emotions;
satisfaction with life;
fulfilment; and
positive functioning.

When it comes to RAK, especially the first aspect is of importance. One of the most basic needs of us humans is the need of belonging and acknowledgement. Whenever we are acknowledged we feel seen and heard and we feel we belong. Being kind includes acknowledgement and thus evokes positive emotions, feelings and moods that in turn enhance our well-being. When diving into the benefits of being kind in more detail, the range of benefits is rather surprising:


Kindness boosts positive emotions as it makes someone:

  • Feeling loved
  • Being in awe
  • Being more optimistic
  • Feeling better about yourself
  • Feeling stronger and more able
  • Feeling calmer and more centred


Kindness counteracts negative emotions by lowering:

  • triggers for depression
  • aches and pains
  • your stress levels
  • anxiety levels
  • your blood pressure


This blog post is intended to not just give you some background knowledge on kindness and well-being as well as an understanding of the science behind this concept, but also to inspire you to integrate more RAKs into your life. A great starting point is to celebrate World Kindness Day with us on November 13th. When you are in need of additional ideas and prompts of how to be kinder to the people around you, check out this month’s edition of our intentional living calendar which you can

download here for free.