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Grandmama Zen: acts of kindness have side effects

Updated on November 7, 2013

Acts of anonymous kindness inspire a chain effect

Friends on Facebook share a trend that made their day.

JB:Thank You to the car in front of me who bought my Coffee and Breakfast Sandwich this morning! I continued your kind gesture❤

  • JWZ I was comped the other day and passed it on as well! It's the feeling you get, the gratitude, that matters most!

  • DSM someone did that for me for my diet coke this am!

  • SED That is always a nice thing for someone to do

  • SS Someone did that for me last week at Starbucks

  • HW I love when that happens!

  • MEK Were you at the starbucks at Lincoln and Parker? that has happened to me twice there! I paid it forward as well!

  • JB Yes I was MEK!! Next time I will I initiate it! Such a small gesture, such a huge reward

  • MEK I initiated it once because it happened to me twice. I wonder if sometimes the barrista's start it just to see how far it will go down the line. I've heard so many people say they got it there free and have paid it forward. And usually at this time of year or christmas. It is a happy surprise!

  • Storytellers R Us Sweet!

A small change in one place may effect great change elsewhere


People who feel loved don't come home and kick a terriorist.


What is it about random acts of anonymous kindness that raise us to near giddy heights?

A cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich total about $10, depending on which coffee and which sandwich. Yet the chain of spirits raised to a higher vibration cannot be quantified.

Imagine the energy these thrilled folk brought to their day! Their sense of gratitude impacted not only the recipient but the giver. It gifted each with a sense of value.

Human beings want to feel we matter. We crave feeling loved.

"Feeling loved is different from being loved. When you feel loved, it makes you feel whole, accepted, and supported by another person, be they a spouse, lover, friend, family member, or work colleague. You get the sense of being valued and emotionally fulfilled, that someone gets you." --

Kindness inspires a butterfly effect

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Did you know practicing kindness has healthy side effects?

David R. Hamilton, Ph.D. has studied the effects of kindness and has come to the conclusion that, like drugs, kindness has side effects. However, the side effects of kindness are all positive:

  • Helping others raises the endogenous opioids in our brains and puts us on a natural high.
  • Acts of kindness make us feel emotionally warm, which raises the level of our oxytocin hormone which lowers blood pressure and protects the heart.
  • Oxytocin also lowers the levels of free radicals and inflammation in the body, thus slowing the aging process.
  • The vagus nerve regulates the heart beat as well as controls inflammation. Compassionate action has been positively linked to actions of the vagus nerve.
  • Relationships are improved when we cut the emotional distance between us via acts of kindness.
  • As with the Starbucks Coffee incident above, acts of kindness inspire a ripple effect, with often astonishing results.

Kind acts are universal

It needn't be a huge gesture. Good Housekeeping lists 50 possibilities including the following:

  1. Leave a bouquet at the hospital — the nurses will know who needs it the most.
  2. Make a struggling family's summer by buying them a season pass to the municipal pool. If you are in a long line, invite the person behind you to go first.
  3. Drop off combs, toothbrushes, and toothpaste at a shelter or a soup kitchen.
  4. Curb road rage: Let other cars merge onto the highway.
  5. Help out a mom and a baby by donating diapers (find a directory of diaper banks at
  6. Send a thank-you note to the brave officers at your local police station.
  7. Ask the grocery clerk to apply your unused coupons to another customer's items.
  8. Arrange to pay anonymously for a soldier's breakfast when you see him or her dining alone.
  9. Slip a $20 gas card or public-transportation pass into someone's shopping bag.
  10. You don't have to send every disadvantaged child to college, but you can buy one of them a life-changing book: Try

YouTube videos show myriads of folk stopping to help someone across the street, rescue a wandering child, save someone's life after they've fallen in the way of a moving vehicle.

But sometimes, all it takes is a free Starbucks to make someone's day.

The ripple effect cannot be measured.

Statue in Santa Fe
Statue in Santa Fe | Source

And oxytocin is good for grandchildren!

"Oxytocin, now dubbed the hormone of love, holds immense sway over the way we feel when we make love, how we give birth, how successful we are at breastfeeding and how we connect to our newborn babies," writes Hannah Dahlen in an article titled, "Oxytocin: the hormone of love and birth".

Perhaps surrounding my darling daughter and and granddaughter with kindness, support and love has more to do with health than I understood.

Perhaps infertility is rooted in its lack? Lots to ponder, as I head to the hospital where my sister in law is recovering from surgery. I finally got hold of her sister in Norway to share the good news that all is well. I guess that was my act for the day. Well that, and delivering a phone charger for her use!

But wait! Serendipity has intervened! ARC just called collecting items for the disabled. I did NOT know they collected old magazines, of which we have truckloads!!! I am so excited, I want to deliver stacks now. Evidently I have something special to look forward to next week! And a task for tomorrow, as I begin the process of boxing them.

Do you make it a practice to commit regular acts of kindness, random or otherwise?

See results

© 2013 Barbara

Describe below any act of kindness you have done, witnessed or had done to you that made a difference in your life.

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    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      He’s so NOT a complainer, Barbara. But he has been under health pressures. I haven't talked to him very recently. Oh, yes, let’s keep him tweaked! Hugs.

      Oh, but foreign is not necessarily barbarian!!! Anyway, you're not!

    • Storytellersrus profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Nellieanna, I am distressed. Ian and I have been commiserating on a Twilight Lawns hub, which I have so enjoyed. I am not aware of his being ill. Let's keep up the fight, tweaking his wit!!

      I love the name meanings- I am merely a barbarian, ie, foreigner!!!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      I'm honored to share Nellie with your Grandmother, Barbara. Was looking at names' meanings earlier and confirmed that the name Nellie is related to Ellen & to Eleanor in various countries and languages, and in all its forms gets good marks, from 'shining light' to 'one who is bright'. Anna is related to Anne & Hannah & gets good marks, mostly about 'grace', 'gracefulness', 'graciousness' and in Native American, equates with 'mother'. So I guess I can breathe a sigh of relief that my parents sent me off with a pleasant name. I didnt love it as a kid, when other kids had all kinds of remarks about it. It was actually the two words, Nellie Anna, but I legally combined them at marriage, in order to keep my maiden surname as a middle name!

      Yes, I am very fond of Ian and miss seeing his work on HP. He is such a wit and writer! We email sometimes but his energy is not so great lately.

    • Storytellersrus profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Nellieanna (love your name- my Grandmother was nicknamed Nellie from Anna Cornelia), thank you for your comments and your Follow. I have no idea why no comment box appeared. Perhaps I have not X'd some box on my profile page? I appreciate the effort and will go online to check it out when our mainframe is free.

      You and I share an affection for one Twilight Lawns. Ian speaks very highly of you and Your work. What an inspiration for humor!!

      Thank you again for sharing your thoughts-- and your attempt at (I hope) accolades. A wise women offers opportunities for both!!!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      ps. I followed you but no fan comment box came up. I even unfollowed, rebooted to make sure there wasn't some glitch in my computer and came back and tried again. Still no fan box. I've never followed anyone in my nearly 4 years online without also fanning him or her to share what I admire about the person. But I am following you, anyway. Can't imagine why I can't write you a fan message. But I would if I could!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      So inspiring, Barbara! (One of my early childhood friends was named Barbara and it is music to my ears.)

      Kindness truly is healthy for all involved, and possibly helps the one doing it more than the recipient, at least in different ways. For the one who does it, it becomes a way of life. For the recipient, it may be a rare experience, but one which stands out because of that. I'm so in tune with your thought that how one thinks and does attracts those very things to one, either for positive or negative effects. Hugs.

    • Storytellersrus profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Jaspal, I would like to know more about how you help the underpriviledged in India. Perhaps one day you will write another hub about it...? Small ways cause ripples, remember.

    • Jaspal profile image


      6 years ago from New Delhi, India

      What a great hub! I am sure we have all experienced the great joy which comes from helping someone who needs it. And, on occasion we've been pleasantly surprised by unexpected acts of generosity from others.

      I do sometimes help out - financially or in other ways - the underprivileged that one comes in contact with. Must look for more ways and do it more often.

    • Storytellersrus profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      How kind of YOU, Frank! Hope you read my Grandmama Zen gratitude hub...

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      6 years ago from Shelton

      Kind acts are universal what a refreshing hub it should win editor's choice Story...:)

    • Storytellersrus profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      And so can we. Thanks, Laurie!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great hub.

      I have bought coffee or whatever the person is ordering behind me and hopefully started a chain.

      If it spreads around the world it is the greatest thing. Jesus always showed kindness when he lived here on earth.

      Great hub



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