By Luke Sniewski
Watching the news is one of the most depressing activities of the day. With media coverage focusing on everything that’s wrong in this world, it’s a rarity to see something that touches us with a smile rather than causing us to reach for the front door to make sure it is securely locked. When probed as to their reasoning for such sensationalist media coverage, broadcasting companies site the psychological phenomenon known as the negativity bias, a theory that suggests humans pay more attention to and give more weight to negative rather than positive experiences.
Let’s see if we can change that with a little help from a nice rack… but first get your mind out of the gutter. This is a different kind of rack.
The nice thing about theories is that they are theories. They don’t have to be universally or completely true. If they were, they’d be labeled as laws. In my humble opinion, the only reason we focus on the negative is because we have been conditioned to do so. We live in social systems that constantly throw negativity at us in various forms of media. If we were taught, or if we learned, something different or consciously made the effort to focus on the positive aspects of life, these initial behavioral changes would evolve into habitual practice.
Have you ever experienced the power of a nice random act of kindness? That’s what #niceRAK stands for. I tested the waters of this concept with a group of friends in Big Bear Lake. I presented the idea behind #niceRAK to see if it would resonate with my close friends. After they realized I wasn’t talking about female anatomy, I wondered whether the idea I had presented made sense. If they didn’t see the light, I figured no one else would. Either way, expectation levels were low, and the only curiosity that lingered was seeing how people would react to thoughtful and intentional random acts of kindness. An hour later I had my answer.
My friends had returned from a coffee run and walked in and in unison yelled “Nice Rack!!!” Hilarity ensued and could instantly guess what had happened. While finishing their trip through the Starbucks drive-thru, my friends decided to pay for the coffee of the customers in the car behind them. The Starbucks employee thought it was a joke. He asked if they were trying to get him fired. After a few laughs and an explanation, the employee smiled. A real, authentic, and genuine smile. The only request my friends left the employee was to inform the next customer of #niceRAK and to keep it going. The exchange of smiles, courtesy of #niceRAK, was well worth the initial awkwardness and confusion.
An external smile, smirk, or chuckle may seem insignificant to an observer, but to the person doing the smiling, that is hardly the case. A multitude of biochemical and hormonal reactions are occurring at exponentially high rates. Smiling invokes feelings of happiness and happy people are healthier. Studies on altruism and acts of selflessness have also been show to contribute to the long-term health and vitality. The bottom line is that being kind and helping others is truly helping you.
Kindness should be the norm, not the exception. People shouldn’t feel confused or awkward about kindness. Being generous to others can dominate our mental landscape if we allow it to. It just takes time and effort to shift the focus. But with social media tools like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, Nice Random Acts of Kindness, or #niceRAK, can be a smile that changes someone’s day. Probably yours. Go ahead and try it just once, see if you can avoid a deep and fulfilling emotion in your gut that sends shivers up your spine and leaves you with grinning from ear-to-ear. It won’t happen. Humans are innately empathetic when given the chance. It’s how we’re wired. By being nice we are only cooperating and living in line with our natural ways.
See if you can take time out of your day and do a #niceRAK, then share it with your social media world. Share it. Tweet it. Hashtag it. We all want to see your #niceRAKs! These are the small things that can truly change the world. One smile at a time.
After all, who isn’t flattered when complimented on their #niceRAK? Don’t be shy, show off your #niceRAK.
And in this case, it’s always polite to stare…
Luke Sniewski (www.lukesniewski.com) is an emerging leader in the Sustainability Movement, since optimal personal health ultimately stems from optimal environmental health. A former Pro-Football player and CPA, this suit-and-tie man left cubicle world to change the world one person and idea at a time. He is a micro greens gardener which puts his Masters in Sustainable Food Systems and professional culinary expertise to practical use. His motto “Healthy Living. Smart Business. Endless Fun.” has provided a personal mission statement that guides his training, speaking, writing, and living.. Follow him on Twitter (@LukeSniewski).