We teach our kids every day the value of being kind, but it's easy to forget why kindness is important when you're wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of normal life. Sometimes, it can feel impossible to do our daily duties: Clean the house, feed the kids, feed the grandkids, get in 30 minutes of exercise, take your mom to the doctor, buy groceries for the week, fix dinner for the husband, and hit the hay by 10:30 p.m.
Instead of going about our lives just trying to survive, it's necessary to step back and take a moment to appreciate all the acts of kindness we experience. You might be surprised how quickly they add up.
In 2006, a group of researchers in Japan studied the relationship between the power of kindness and subjective happiness in undergraduate students (a pretty miserable bunch, wouldn't you say?). They found that after just one week of counting the number acts of kindness, participants reported higher levels of happiness and feelings of gratitude.
So in honor of recognizing all the nice things complete strangers do for us, we've rounded up some of the best answers to reddit user tothesunshadows' question: "What is the kindest thing a stranger has done for you?" These answers are hilariously brutal, profoundly touching, and nothing short of miraculous.
Sometimes, the best thing you can be is a shoulder to cry on
When you see someone down on their luck, lend them a hand
Parenting isn't easy...for anyone
But sometimes it's nice to know that you're doing it right
It's the little things
Today you, tomorrow me </h2
But before you run out and pay for another person's groceries, it's important to know that showing yourself kindness is also important. Whether you give yourself five more minutes in bed or treat yourself to something sweet, taking care of yourself is the best way to take care of others.
In another study involving students — this time they were all female — researchers found that women who were taught compassion skills reported greater feelings of "self-compassion, mindfulness, optimism, and self-efficacy."
So go ahead and treat yourself! Science does say so!
Did those stories brighten your day? This video of unlikely animal friendships will make you smile even brighter.