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Random Acts of Kindness Day
I love this quote by Leo Buscaglia:
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
What Is Random Acts of Kindness Day?
Each year February 17 is celebrated internationally as Random Acts of Kindness Day.
It's a movement that's thought to have started by Anne Herbert in 1982. It was then that she coined the following phrase and wrote it on a placemat at a Sausalito restaurant: "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty."
It's said this phrase ended up on bumper stickers throughout the US and has slowly turned into what it's become today with the help of www.randomactsofkindness.org. This non-profit organization was established in 1995 and dedicated to spreading kindness in the world.
The Scientifically Proven Benefits of Being Kind
A simple act of kindness has the potential to do more than turn someone else's day around. It also has the "do-er" of the action connecting with that part of their brain that has them feeling good.
The thing about kindness is that it doubles when shared. Studies have shown that when we perform just 1 random act of kindness of day, we not only reduce our levels of:
- Anxiety, and
Our body is also flooded with the same hormones that make you and the person you've helped to feel:
Those hormones are:
- Serotonin: which helps to heal wounds, help us relax and makes us feel good
- Endorphins: which reduce pain, and
- Oxytocin: which lowers blood pressure, and has us feeling more loving and loved.
Together, the do-er and receiver of a random act of kindness will feel:
- More energized
- Fewer aches and pains and
- More confident
And guess what else happens!
When other people witness the act, they'll also be filled with the same feel-good hormones, which means they're significantly more likely to pay-it-forward.
"The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to "pay it forward." This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!"
~ Jamil Zaki, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University
Examples of Easy Random Acts of Kindness We Can All Do To Turn Someone Else's Day Around
- Smile at someone and meaning it.
- Give an honest compliment to someone you know, or a stranger (such as "Wow, you have a gorgeous smile, or I love your jacket!").
- Take an extra moment to hold an elevator or open a door for someone.
- Spot a coffee or bus fare for a stranger.
- Give a neighbour a hand with their groceries.
- Offer your help to someone in need.
- Engaging with your barista, server, or cashier by asking how their day is going.
- Let someone go ahead of you in the supermarket queue.
- Clean up someone else's mess.
- Give away something you consider valuable.
- Drop off soft toys to a children's hospital, or books to a regular one.
- Leave a copy of your favourite read on a park bench, or doctor's waiting room with a note for someone else to find and pick-up for themselves.
- Put up anonymous, lovely sticky notes for strangers to find.
- Give up your seat for someone on the bus or train.
- Put a coin in an expired meter
- Take a minute to direct someone who's lost, even if you're rushing.
- Buy a homeless person a sandwich, bag of fruit, or a meal.
- Compliment someone on social media: share what they mean to you, or how they've positively impacted, whether they're a friend or a leader you admire.
- Phone a friend, or leave them a voice message, telling them what they mean to you.
- Donate to a worthy cause.
- Pick up litter as you go about your day, or take out the neighbour's trash.
- Reconnect with someone you haven't seen for a while and remind them what they mean to you.
- Thank someone who's made a difference in your life – a teach, boss, or acquaintance, who may not realize the impact they've had in your life.
The more we practice doing random acts of kindness, the better we get at it. This is especially true in awkward moments when it might just have a more significant impact than we could ever know.
Imagine, for example, an everyday supermarket scenario:
You're waiting to pay for a few things in the express-line at the supermarket, feeling tired and grumpy from a long day at work, later than you’d wanted to be at getting home.
The woman in front of you clearly has more than the “allowed” 12 items in her basket. AND she has a baby with her that she's now showing off to the cashier, who's gushing all over the baby and taking her sweet time to scan the items.
You want to scream and give the cashier a piece of your mind when it's finally your turn, but then you realize the baby really was adorable. You take a breath and decide to mention the cuteness to the cashier.
And to your surprise, with smiling but teary eyes, she replies, "Oh, thank you so much! That's my son. My husband was recently passed away, and my mum takes care of my baby most days and always brings him here each day, so I get to see him a little more often."
While we never know what another person is going through, we always get to choose how we show up in the world.
Showing kindness to others, especially when we're not the best of moods, helps soften our edges, and is a way of finding rubies in our here and now. Kindness is inspiring, powerful, courageous, and wise.
You never know the butterfly effect some small thing you choose to do for someone else can have. So let's get to it, this Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17), and start a chain reaction of goodness that has the potential to spread throughout entire communities, cities, and countries.
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