On August 12, 2011 San Diego Police Department’s Officer Jeremy Henwood lost his life in the line of duty. Henwood, a Marine combat veteran, was 36 years old when he was gunned down after leaving a McDonald’s restaurant. He had returned from Afghanistan just six months earlier, it had been his third military tour.
Video cameras were able to catch Henwood’s last minutes while in the restaurant. A boy had approached him at the counter asking for change to buy cookies. Henwood did so without hesitation, spoke to the boy and encouraged him to meet his goals of being an NBA star athlete. It was Henwood’s last random act of kindness, and it will always be remembered.
Most people have heard the phrase “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty”. But what does that really mean? Quite simply a random act of kindness can be defined as a selfless act performed by a person or persons wanting to assist or cheer up an individual for no other reason than to make that person smile or to be happier. These altruistic acts are a generous way of expressing gratitude for all that you have been given. The benefits of performing random acts of kindness are multifold.
Personal Social Responsibility
Can you imagine a world where no one gave to one another? Personal social responsibility is about doing to others what you would like others do to you; recognizing how your behavior affects others; and being accountable for your own actions. Unfortunately, law enforcement officers encounter many people who simply have absolutely no sense of personal social responsibility. They commit crimes; they abuse and violate others, and create general havoc. It can lead an officer into cynicism.
Random acts of kindness are essential to our feeling of well-being individually and collectively. Kindness is contagious. Acts of kindness can help free an individual of feelings of self-obsession, isolation, and pessimism. It doesn’t matter who the recipient is; a family member, a co-worker, a neighbor, a friend, a victim of a crime, an out of luck civilian on your beat, or even a whole community, kindness counts.
Kindness is truly a win/win/win situation. The person you are being kind to benefits through your help. You feel good for having made someone feel better. And the world is a better place through your kindness. If that isn’t enough, numerous scientific studies show that acts of kindness result in significant health benefits, both physically and mentally. After performing an act of kindness many individuals feel a rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of feeling calm by the release of endorphins.
Additional health benefits of kindness include:
- a decrease in the effects of diseases such as ulcers and asthma
- strengthening of the immune system
- a decrease in both the intensity and the awareness of physical pain
- decreased feelings of stress, depression, loneliness, helplessness, hostility and isolation
- an increased sense of self-worth, greater happiness, and optimism
- enhanced feelings of energy, vigor and emotional resilience
- a definite decrease in Scrooge signs and symptoms over the holidays
Even better; the health benefits and sense of well-being return for hours, or even days, whenever the act of kindness is remembered.
Most of us have been blessed by being the recipient of at least a few random acts of kindness. Some even while working in law enforcement! From someone covering your shift so you can be home Christmas morning with your children, to the couple who paid your breakfast tab before leaving a restaurant, to a civilian who called your supervisor to praise your service, to the girl scout troop who baked your team cookies, to the partner who taped a funny cartoon on your locker when they knew you were down... You know how you felt by the display of kindness; appreciated, cared about, surprised, but most importantly, happy.
Ideas for 50 Random Acts of Kindness