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The kindness economy: Spreading good in hard times

26 May 2020

No matter what the global situation is, there’s one economy that doesn’t have to suffer. And that’s the economy of kindness.

When our routines get disrupted, the economy takes a hit and the news is constantly negative, it can be easy to give in to negativity. But it isn’t the time to give up, it’s time to help your neighbours and spread some good vibes.

Luckily, no matter what the global situation is, there’s one economy that doesn’t have to suffer. And that’s the economy of kindness.

Give a little, get a lot

Not much in life is free - but sharing positivity and helping each other out has more pros than cons. Usually, your kindness might come in the form of charitable donations, buying gifts for friends, or paying for someone’s coffee at your local café. But supporting your community doesn’t have to come with a big price tag, and little acts of kindness can go a long way in terms of your health and resilience.

In a study at UC Berkeleydisclaimer, Christine Carter said that “about half of participants reported that they feel stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth.”

Also, science shows that people who are kind have 23% less cortisoldisclaimer (stress hormones) in their body, and countries that practice altruism and charitable donations are happier (and pay less tax!) according to Harvarddisclaimer.

So, where do we start? Here are five easy ways to invest in your community this year, without impacting your bank balance.

1. Offer to run errands for people

You don’t have to pay for your neighbour’s groceries, but if you’re already heading to the shops you can offer to help source them. There are many people unable to get outdoors or don’t have a car and could use a helping hand. Give your local friends a call or drop a note in their letterbox, especially if you know that they’re at risk or in isolation.

2. Use your phone for good

Without physical connection, we’re all spending a whole lot more time on a screen. But let’s not waste those hours with mindless scrolling. Write your friends an email, reach out to someone who might be doing it tough, or share interesting stories and positive news on your feed. You could even organise an online trivia night for your friends or family to encourage some social connection. 

3. Start a community piggy bank

When the crisis is over, everyone is going to want to celebrate. Ask everyone on your street or in your friendship circle to collect their spare change (or contribute a few dollars each week to a savings account). When the lockdowns are lifted, you can treat yourselves to a community brunch or group outing with all those extra coins. Together at last, without the usual cost.

4. Leave joy wherever you go

Making someone smile is priceless. If you have an idea for a sign outside your house, or a talent you can share online, now’s the time to get creative. Families around Melbourne are painting chalk rainbows on their driveways or planting flags in local parks to brighten up people’s morning walks. In Italy, people sing. Find your way of contributing.

5. If you can, buy local 

If you’ve still got budget for takeaway dinner or a flat white at your local café, now’s the time to support those little businesses whose clientele have all but disappeared. And if you’re worried about hygiene, buy a voucher instead. It’s not just restaurants doing it tough. Check your neighbourhood to see if there are other ways to support local businesses – from bookshops to butchers.

If a crisis leaves us with anything positive, it’s probably a sense that we’re all in this together - even when we’re apart. Investing in each other and our own health will not only help us feel better now, but will also put us in a better position to grow on the other side of this crisis.

Plan your spend

To help keep track of where your money’s going or to make some room in your budget for supporting your community, head over to the ANZ Financial Wellbeing program.

Start planning

The information set out above is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on the information, you should consider whether the information is appropriate for you having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. By providing this information ANZ does not intend to provide any financial advice or other advice or recommendations.  You should seek independent financial, legal, tax and other relevant advice having regard to your particular circumstances.

Luks, Allan, "Doing Good: Helper's High," Psychology Today 22, no. 10 (1988). Magen, Zipora, "Commitment Beyond Self and Adolescence," Social Indicators Research 37 (1996) via Greater Good Magazine.

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