Kindness Challenge: Make Generosity a Habit

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Giving back is important for your health and well-being. Here’s how to integrate small acts of kindness into your everyday routine.

close up shot of seniors holding hands

If you’ve been following the 7-Day Kindness Challenge, you know there are many ways to share your kindness with the world. Expressing your genuine gratitude, volunteering your time (formally or informally), turning your workouts into good deeds, and self-care, to name a few.

And you also know that being kind doesn’t take a ton of time or money, either. Even the smallest acts can have a huge impact on the lives of others.

Plus, it’s so worth it — body and soul. According to Cedars-Sinai in New York, acts of kindness can release hormones that make us feel better — specifically, one called oxytocin that’s nicknamed “the love hormone” because it surges when we feel connected to others. Kindness is not only good for the soul. It’s also been shown to lower blood pressure, boost energy, ease pain, and a whole host of other health benefits.

That said, good intentions are easily sidelined by other priorities. Maybe as your chore list grows, generosity is the first thing to drop off your list. Or when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, you feel that you have no energy to give.

Turning good deeds into a habit takes time. Sure, there are times when it will fall to the wayside. But the more intentional you are about making it a part of your life, the easier and more natural it will become, says Tenaz Cardoz. She’s the founder of Kind Hearts Brigade, an initiative focused on creating more kindness.

Use these strategies to turn kindness into a habit.

1. Commit to ‘No Zero’ Days

When you hear the word “habit,” do you feel ready for action, or do you flinch a bit? For many people, the term can feel overwhelming or like a chore — as if this is one more thing to add to your already too-long daily list, says Cardoz.

“When something becomes a chore, no one wants to do it,” she says. “Instead, try a thing called ‘no zero days,’ which can motivate you to do one tiny kind thing today.” For example, maybe you commit to saying hello to one person every day, or making a single, positive comment on someone’s social media post.

Thinking in terms of “no zero days” can give you that nudge toward creating a solid habit that doesn’t feel like it’s too much.

2. Get SMART

There’s a science to making habits stick. One tool experts rely on: SMART Goals. They’re statements that foster a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish — and how.

This means that successful action steps are:

Specific. What exactly will I accomplish?
Example: Instead of saying you’ll “be kind,” focus on a concrete action, like writing a note to a friend.

Measurable. How will I know when I reached this goal?
Example: I’ll write a note to a friend every Sunday after lunch.

Achievable. Is this goal realistic and how will I accomplish it?
Example: I have all the tools I need to write these letters, including note cards, envelopes, and stamps.

Relevant. Why is my goal important to me?
Example: I value my friendships and care about their well-being.

Timely. What is my deadline for this goal?
Example: I will write one letter a week for the next four weeks.

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Use the notes section in the downloadable PDF 7-Day Kindness Challenge Activity Guide to plot out your SMART Goals.

Adopting new habits takes time. You might need to shift many times before finding the habits that are right for you. But as you integrate more kindness into your everyday life, it’s likely you’ll get as much of a boost as others do.

As you create more and more kindness moments, jot down what works best, and what you’ve loved doing. If volunteering makes you feel stressed or tired, find another strategy that works better, like raising funds for a cause you care about.

Over time, you probably won’t have to think much about finding opportunities for kindness, since they’ll just be part of your everyday routine.

Come back tomorrow for the final day of the Kindness Challenge, when we’ll share ways friends of the SilverSneakers community show kindness every day. Find all of the 7-Day Challenge activities here.

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