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Did you help someone this year? According to new research, you probably did. And even if your gesture was small, it likely made a powerful difference.
In a new survey, 90 percent of people reported taking action to support others this year, according to data released by OptionB.org, a nonprofit organization that promotes resiliency founded by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
As part of the organization’s annual #OptionBThere for the holidays initiative, the nonprofit, in partnership with Survey Monkey, asked 2,050 adults about their experiences in 2020. The survey found that adults of all ages helped each other in unprecedented ways this year.
While people may assume that only big gestures get noticed, the survey showed that even small acts of kindness were meaningful. “We often think that we need to show up in big ways, and that prevents us sometimes from taking action,” says Rachel Thomas, CEO of OptionB.org and its sister nonprofit, LeanIn.org, both founded by Sandberg. The survey also found:
Small acts of kindness have a lot of power, says Thomas, adding that members of OptionB.org’s online community, which offers peer-to-peer support for those facing grief and other hardships, have seen that value firsthand. “Even if your words aren’t perfect or your gestures are small and unexpected, they might be exactly what someone needs,” she says.
The survey also found that this year was difficult for many people and those acts of kindness were essential:
Supporting others can lift your own spirits, Thomas says. “A really powerful way to build your own resilience, and your own sense of well-being, is to actually show up for others,” Thomas says. Seventy percent of those surveyed said they felt better able to handle new challenges in the future because of the hardships they faced this year.
And here’s another bit of good news: With so many of us facing the same challenges as our neighbors, “people are sharing what’s going on with each other in ways they haven’t before,” Thomas says. That “creates a sense of shared understanding and shared empathy.”
She hopes the empathy and kindness noted in the survey results will keep on growing. “The more you show up, and the more you take action, the more comfortable you can be doing it,” Thomas says. “It really sets off a virtuous cycle. And of course, it feels good.”
Article written by Melissa Rayworth for AARP.org: https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2020/kindness-survey.html