One act of kindness goes a long way

How much does it cost to make an impact on someone’s life? As little as 10 cents.

That was the remarkable conclusion of a 1972 study that set out to test what it takes to motivate a person to reach out and give back.

Researchers in the U.S. placed a dime in the coin return slot of shopping mall payphones to see how even a little bit of gratitude can impact the way we behave. Moments after an unsuspecting shopper discovered the dime, a man would drop a folder full of papers nearby.

The spirits of those who found the dime were lifted just enough for them to want to help the man — 84 per cent stopped to collect the papers. But of those who didn’t find the dime, fewer than 5 per cent lent a hand.

The researchers discovered that even a tiny slice of happiness can cause a chain reaction of goodwill.

This is the kind of thing we all see in our lives every day. Think back to the last time someone did something nice for you — maybe a loved one made you dinner after a long day or a co-worker congratulated you on a job well done. How did it make you feel? It probably brightened your day and made you want to return the favour.

It’s the cycle of reciprocity — the idea that by reaching out, we can create enough positive energy to encourage others to do the same. It doesn’t take long for one simple act to snowball into something much larger.

That energy is gratitude. Psychologists say that people who regularly feel thankful — even for things as small as a newfound dime — are happier, healthier and more concerned about the welfare of others.

When we reach out, we leave our mark and set a great example.

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