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World Kindness Day

It's been exactly a week since the midterm elections. No matter your political beliefs, many of us could probably use a little kindness right now. Luckily, it's the perfect time to lay off your horn or let someone cut in line. Today is World Kindness Day, which is celebrated in countries around the world and was first introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement, a coalition of NGOs.

Focusing more on kindness is a good thing, especially in today’s climate. And one of the great things about kindness is both the person doing the act and the recipient of the kindness feel a benefit.

According to Dr. Murali Krishna, a psychiatrist in Oklahoma, "Most of us are fortunate enough to avoid terrible tragedies. But each of us experiences pain, sadness and loneliness. One of the best ways to overcome these feelings is to connect with others through service. It’s one of the fundamental ways I suggest people can achieve balanced lives, whether through volunteering in the community or through finding a quieter connection with someone," he says.

In fact, says Dr. Krishna, research suggests the good feelings you get from being kind to others can have a physical impact on your health. It’s been called "the helper’s high," and it may have a positive effect on the immune system. Says Dr. Krishna, "Scientists theorize the good feelings may release chemicals called neuropeptides that bolster the immune system and provide a sense of well-being."

While kindness all year long is ideal, what better time to spread some happy energy than the week leading into the holiday season? In honor of World Kindness Day, here are ten ways to pay it forward. You never know what kind of day others are having, so being kind in the simplest of ways can go far.

  1. Pay for the person behind you in the Starbucks line.
  2. Greet and smile at everyone who crosses your path today.
  3. Be polite on the road. No honking!
  4. Write a positive comment on Facebook.
  5. Be kind to your server and leave him/her a generous tip.
  6. Call your mom, dad, child or sibling just to say, "hi."
  7. Donate towels or blankets to a local animal shelter.
  8. Text someone good night or send an encouraging message.
  9. Send a handwritten postcard.
  10. Set the dinner table or do the dishes.

Whether it's something big or a little gesture, no one ever feels bad about doing some good. It's like going to the gym — it may seem like a chore, but once you do it, you feel great. For more information or ideas, visit the Random Acts of Kindness website or the World Kindness Movement website.

November 13 may be World Kindness Day, but you can be kind any day of the year! Download a free, printable 2019 calendar and challenge yourself or your friends to random acts of kindness all year round.