Friday 17th February marks the arrival of Random Acts Of Kindness Day so we’ve pulled together 17 ideas on how you can make a difference.
We can often underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word or a listening ear. Sometimes it’s the smallest act that makes the biggest impact. Something as simple as saying please or thank you can turn a day around and make life seem that much better. Random Acts of Kindness Day encourages you to get out there and be the light you want to see in the world.
Where did it all start?
First created in Denver, Colorado in 1995, and nine years later spreading to New Zealand; Random Acts of Kindness has become a global movement which can include just about anything. The idea behind it is a simple one – make the world a better place by spreading a little love!
Other dates for the diary are Kindness Day UK and World Kindness Day on 13th November. This was the opening day of the first World Kindness Movement conference held at Tokyo in 1998, and the 35th anniversary of the Small Kindness Movement of Japan.
How can I get involved?
Random Acts of Kindness come in all forms, large and small, and how you choose to perform yours is entirely up to you. It can start with dropping a bit of change in the cup of the homeless person along the street, or you could take a friend out to lunch… just because they’re your friend. If you see someone looking down; even just smiling at them or telling them to have a good day could have a profound impact.
We love this video of three German students surprising a homeless guy…
Kindness is a win-win situation. By brightening someone’s day, you’ll brighten yours too! Research has shown that the very act of doing something for someone else gives us a chemical high… a higher one, in fact, than if something had been done for us so here are 17 ideas to get you started.
1. Be kind to yourself. Write down 3 to 5 things for which you’re grateful – try and do this everyday and notice the impact it has on how you feel.
2. Offer to pick up groceries for an elderly neighbour, a single mum or someone who maybe having health issues.
3. Offer someone your seat on the morning commute.
4. Say ‘I love you’ to someone you love.
5. Ask! Sometimes we shy away from people when we know they’re having a rough time. We assume we should wait for them to approach us, so we’re not intruding. Instead, ask them how they’re doing. If they don’t want to talk, they’ll say they’re “fine” but many people will be relieved to have someone to talk to. If you don’t ask, they might never mention anything.
6. Tell someone the truth. Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s what friends do.
7. Give a friend a ‘Notes Jar’: Put 50–100 folded pieces of paper or paper hearts in a jar. Write something that is special about your friend one each one. Give her the jar and tell her to pull out a note anytime she gets lonely or needs a pick me up.
Image Credit: Esmée Sophie
8. Say ‘thank you’ to someone who has made a difference in your life.
9. Hold the door open for someone.
10. Everyone is important. Smile and say “hello” to strangers. Learn the name of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day and greet them by name. These acts of kindness are so easy, and they almost always make people smile.
11. Send someone flowers or buy them a small gift. Just because.
12. Pay It Forward. If you get a new item of clothing, give away something you no longer need. Pass along a great book after you’ve finished reading it and if you got great service at lunch, leave the waiter or waitress a generous tip.
13. Treat a stranger to a coffee. If you’re in the coffee shop, pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the queue.
14. Share the Savings! If you print an Internet coupon before going to a store, print a few extras to give to other customers.
15. Tell someone they’re beautiful. Give compliments. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it.
We live on a planet full of people of all different shapes, sizes, colours and that in itself is a beautiful thing but we’re not great at receiving compliments. If we’re told we have a lovely dress on, we’ll quickly start rambling on about how old it is. If someone tells us we’re pretty, we’d rather say ‘oh, don’t be silly’ than ‘thank you’. But you know what? Sometimes we really, really need to hear something good about ourselves.
We love this video made by Shea Glover, a student at a performing arts school in Chicago. She was filming a project on beauty for one of her classes when she noticed that the reactions people had to being told they were beautiful were far more interesting than the initial project.
16. Listen with all your senses! Don’t interrupt and realise that people don’t always want us to suggest a solution; they just want us to listen. We underestimate how important and comforting it is to be listened to.
17. Say ‘please & thank you’ and really mean it!
It doesn’t need to be a Random Acts Of Kindness Day or Random Acts of Kindness Week to try any of these out. In fact, the more often you practice kindness, the better the world becomes and the happier you feel. We’d love to know what random acts of kindness you’ve dished out or experienced yourself so please let us know in the comments below.