Written by our Founder and CEO, the Celebrations Pulse letters aim to engage with our community. By welcoming your ideas and sharing your stories, we want to help you strengthen your relationships with the most important people in your life.

What if I told you there’s something that can help cure the loneliness epidemicfriendship recession, depression, and a host of other mental and physical illnesses? And that the same remedy can also reduce crime, strengthen communities, and help end political polarization?

The “medicine” for all those ailments?


Sadly, kindness seems to be in short supply these days. Just turn on the TV news or drive anywhere, and you’ll probably see countless examples of people being not so kind to each other.

Imagine the impact of each one of us making a conscious decision to do something extra for another person. I’m not talking about just being nice, like saying hello to your neighbor but being thoughtful, caring, and considerate. It’s going out of your way to have a positive impact on someone else’s life.

kindness offering directions photo

That is the goal of Random Acts of Kindness Week, which started last week and ends tomorrow. Since 1995, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has been encouraging people to give kindness a try and see how it makes a difference. I think it should be extended indefinitely.

The kindness ripple effect

Something as simple as buying a stranger a cup of coffee does not seem like an act that will change the world. But research shows that a little bit of kindness goes a very long way. Both the recipient and the giver experience joy, and such acts, when multiplied, have an exponential impact on everyone around us.

According to a University of Ohio study, people who act kindly (in other words, they’re motivated by the desire to help another person and not gain reward or avoid punishment) saw a boost in happiness and self-esteem and a reduction in stress. People who were depressed or anxious benefited as it took their minds off their symptoms.

The Mayo Clinic points out that being kind helps light up the pleasure and reward systems in our brains. Further, it helps alleviate loneliness, which is a crucial step toward helping to combat our current epidemic of loneliness. And finally, kindness helps you better connect with others – which studies have shown leads to longer and happier lives.

Let’s go a step further, by strengthening not just relationships between individuals but among the wider community. A set of studies from Stanford University found that when people see or experience acts of kindness, they will copy the behavior. In fact, it spreads like a virus.

Kindness in our community

In last week’s Celebrations Pulse, I asked you to share your experiences with kindness. The responses confirmed what I always knew: This is a very kind community.

For Jennifer, kindness was about helping to save a life, and in the process making her feel better about herself and more appreciative:

My husband has had health problems over the years and eventually needed a kidney transplant. We found out I was a match, and I donated a kidney. Five years later, he is still with us. When I’m feeling down, I like to do anonymous random acts of kindness, to put some good back into the world, and I feel I was truly blessed by something positive each time I did something kind. I continue to bless strangers as much as I can, and especially when I am just feeling a bit down.

In another story, Linda headed to a local eatery to have breakfast by herself after her husband and son left for work one morning. Then she noticed an elderly man who was also eating alone:

I’m not sure if he had family or not, so I thought I would make someone’s day, and I paid for his breakfast. I enjoyed the shocked look from him when he found out his breakfast was paid. He did not know that it was me. I was blessed to be able to bless someone else.

Dawn decided at the beginning of the year to be more involved in her local community, and one of the ways she does that is to shop once a month at an independent grocery store near her home. It was there that she figured out another way to give back:

After my purchases, I ask to get $25 in cash, and I give it to the cashier to apply to the next customer’s grocery bill. It is totally random and not to be disclosed to the customer. I am so fortunate and grateful to be able to share.”

Julie’s story also took place at a grocery store. Last year, she saw a commotion in an adjacent checkout lane as a customer was asking the cashier to remove items from her cart; her debit card had been declined several times:

I don’t know what came over me, but I leaned over and instructed the cashier to add back all the items. I handed him my credit card and paid for her order. The woman was flabbergasted, and she asked me for my address, so she could bring me the money the next day. She asked me if I had a dog, and I said no that I had a cat.

The next day, the woman came to my house with a small bouquet of flowers and a treat for my cat. 

The next time I went to that store, there was a $20 bill lying on the floor waiting for me to pick it up. After that experience, when someone tells me there is no karma or divine intervention, I don’t believe them.

The lesson in all the stories our community shared is that it feels good when you give your time, your effort, and even your money, to help other people. It is part of what makes us human. And it’s why we say that, for so many reasons, giving is the gift!

All the best,


Jim McCann is the founder, CEO, and chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. as well as a business leader, author, and philanthropist with a passion for helping people deliver smiles. Devoted to helping others, he also founded Smile Farms, a 501(c)3 organization that provides meaningful jobs in agricultural settings to young adults and adults with developmental disabilities.

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