There are countless ways to improve yourself—to become the best version of the man staring back at you in the mirror. In fact, this whole Handbook (and, well, Valet. as a whole) is centered on that very pursuit. But there’s another way to be better: by doing something kind. Kindness is an underrated virtue in a society that’s always hustling and trying to maximize time. Who’s got time to slow down and do something selfless?
But giving your time, empathy, support and thought can have huge impacts on the people around you—be it friends and family, colleagues or simply strangers that you don’t even know. And here’s the bonus: it does something good for you too. You’re probably familiar with that warm and fuzzy feeling you get after you perform a good deed.
Research shows that helping others can be good for our mental health. It reduces stress because it releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, which increases self-esteem and optimism. It improves our emotional well-being and even benefits our physical health by boosting our resiliency and immunity. When we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization (the fulfillment of one’s own potential) is improved.
What’s more, doing something nice for others helps strengthen social ties and the sense that you’re part of a community. And that is something that can be sorely lacking these days. But as Aristotle once famously said: “It is easy to perform good action, but not easy to acquire a settled habit of performing such actions.” Consistency is important if you want to to really be a good guy—and reap the physical and emotional health benefits of kindness. Think of it less as a one-and-done event, but rather part of an ongoing effort. Make it more of a habit.
To get you started, here’s a list of some good deeds you could try. But remember, you know what to do. Look around you and you’ll no doubt see opportunities to help out or extend a hand.