Have you ever looked at the people in a drive-thru lane early in the morning? They appear to be stressed, rushed, or most likely, incredibly under-caffeinated. Very rarely do you see a surprised smile from any of these drivers…until they hear the words, "Don't worry about it — the person in front of you paid for your coffee."
Suddenly, the sleepy driver is wide-awake with shock! A feeling warmer than the awaiting cup of coffee suddenly spreads to the driver's heart as she says, "Wow…that was so nice! Let me pay for the person behind me." And then it continues on and on. I know this for a fact because this exact scenario happened to me. And not just to me — 379 people in a row paid for those behind them back in a Starbucks drive-thru in 2014.
Random acts of kindness, such as paying for someone's coffee or even picking up someone's toppled trashcan, are often small acts that make a big difference in the day or potential the life of someone else. But what kind of person instigates such selfless behavior with no expectation of a reward or thank you? According to psychologist Dr. George Fieldman, those who have been treated kindly throughout their lives are more likely to treat others the same way. And when you think about it, even if you have not been the type to do nice things for others in the past, wouldn't a random act of kindness make you want to do good things for others?
Performing altruistic acts does not only help others, but you could always be helping yourself! Studies have shown that doing kind things for others can help lower anxiety, especially for those with social anxiety. By performing a random act of kindness, those with social anxiety feel more positive and are more encouraged to interact with others.
And did you know that altruism is good for your physical health as well? In an article for The Huffington Post,Dr. David R. Hamilton explains that being kind towards others releases oxytocin, which helps to lower blood pressure. Therefore, performing random acts of kindness is good for your heart both literally and figuratively!
With the holidays just around the corner, take a moment and tap into your altruistic and selfless side. For the cost of an extra cup of coffee, you could truly make someone's day a little brighter.