Random acts of kindness

by | Nov 9, 2015 | Building Relationships, Mindset

kindness
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Friday the 13th is World Kindness Day, so I thought this week’s post should be about kindness and how it fits in with the theme of appreciation and thankfulness.

First, what is kindness, exactly? According to the Oxford Dictionary, kindness is “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” Therefore, when someone is friendly … they smile at you, ask you how your day went, etc., they are being kind. When someone gives you something, they are being kind. And, when someone is polite to you, they are being kind.

In last week’s post, I talked about that giving gifts, cards, and words of appreciation were all ways you can show gratitude. Given the above definition, being kind is also an expression of appreciation.

But what about “random acts of kindness”? There is actually a movement behind this concept: The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has the mission of inspiring a culture of kindness in schools, homes and communities and sponsors several “Random Acts of Kindess” observances throughout the year.

I believe that kindness is a healing act that does just as much, if not more, for the person being kind than the person receiving the kindness. Research has shown that being kind, particularly through volunteer work, has health benefits: It increases your overall sense of well-being, which includes building emotional resilience and reducing your level of stress.

Being kind can trigger the release of endorphins, your body’s natural pain killers. This can lead to a sense of euphoria or at least calmness. Being kind can increase a person’s sense of self-worth, which in turn leads to greater happiness, optimism and peach, as well as a decrease in the feelings of helplessness and depression. There it evidence that being kind to strangers provides immune and healing benefits, and can be a critical component of mental health.

I also believe that being kind, in general, is part and parcel of owning one’s awesome. For how can you own your awesome if you deny the awesomeness of others through being unfriendly, miserly, and inconsiderate?

I encourage you to nurture your own kindness. Here are five suggestions:

  • Give money and/or time to your favorite charity. This can be as simple as giving money at your next religious service to volunteering at a local soup kitchen this Thanksgiving.
  • If you make lunch for someone regularly, such as your spouse or your children, throw in a surprise. My mother used to draw pictures on my lunch bag. When I worked in food service at school, I paid the idea forward, drawing pictures on the lunch bags I prepared. People seemed to like that little bit of personalization and kindness.
  • Say thank you to the clerk at your grocery story, your waitress at dinner, the bus driver or any other person who is providing a service as their means of income. You never know when the simple act of saying thank you can really make someone’s day.
  • Pause to hold the door open for the person behind you. Don’t be that person that lets door “slam” closed in someone else’s face!
  • Listen first, formulate your response afterward. When you help a person feel heard, you’ve done an amazing act of kindness.

Of course this isn’t a comprehensive list. I’m sure you can come up with more ideas … some of them even on the fly, in the moment. I invite you share your acts of kindness tips in a comment below.


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