Do We REALLY Need a Holiday to Remind Us to Be Kind?

Written by on February 16, 2015 in Sense of Purpose

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do. ~Edward Everett Hale

Random Acts of KindnessTomorrow (February 17) is National Random Acts of Kindness Day, an unofficial holiday that has steadily grown in popularity since it was founded in 1995.

The question is do we REALLY need a holiday to remind us to be kind? Well, maybe.

I believe most people are inherently kind, so I will acknowledge that (as the old saying goes) for most readers I am preaching to the choir, but just for the heck of it, see if you can conjure up the last time you carried out a random act of kindness toward someone outside your immediate family.

Chances are you’re generally kind to most everyone you come in contact with on a daily basis, yet in our busy, busy world it’s easy to go days (weeks, months) without carrying out an “intentional” kind act toward another person. But it may be worth making time because there’s compelling evidence that the benefits of  including acts of kindness in your life go far beyond short term satisfaction.

The Healthy Nature of Kindness

One of the most compelling studies on the benefits of acts of kindness was performed by Allan Luks, the former Executive Director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New York City, and documented in his 1991 book (affiliate link), The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual benefits of Helping Others.

From his survey of more than 3000 volunteers of all ages at more than 20 organizations throughout the country he concluded that, “helping contributes to continued good health and can diminish the effects of diseases and disorders, psychological as well as physical.”

The volunteers in Luks’ study testified to feeling a rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm, after performing a kind act. This feeling, which Luks calls “Helper’s High,” involves physical sensations that strongly indicate a sharp reduction in stress and the release of the body’s natural painkillers, the endorphins. This initial rush is then followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional well-being.

Sounds pretty impressive, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing to periodically have a reminder to be kind, especially to those we tend to take for granted. Let me give you an example.

Most of us have favorite service providers (cashier, barista, waiter/waitress, etc.) that we gravitate toward when we’re out and about. Maybe it’s a grocery cashier who is not only efficient, but always friendly and quick with a smile. She just makes you feel better about having to stand in line and go through the tedious check out process. Or maybe it’s the barista at your favorite coffee shop who actually remembers how you like your coffee.

While it could be said your “loyalty” is in itself a sign of appreciation, have you ever taken the time to get to know them by name, or told them face-to-face how much you appreciate them?

Can you imagine if every human being performed a single simple random act of kindness like this tomorrow or even this week? Why, it could change the world!

This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart is the temple. Your philosophy is simple kindness. ~Dalai Lama XIV

Never Underestimate the Impact of a Single Act of Kindness

Following are 40 acts of kindness that require little or no advance preparation. Enjoy!

  • Tell a favorite service employee (cashier, barista, etc.) how much you appreciate them.
  • Give a compliment about your favorite service employee to his/her manager.
  • Let someone jump in line ahead of you at the bank, grocery store, etc.
  • Give up your seat for someone, not just an elderly person.
  • Compliment a colleague for their hard work and excellence.
  • Suck it up and give another driver that prime parking spot you’ve been waiting for.
  • Help an elderly neighbor carry the rubbish out.
  • Surprise your significant other with breakfast in bed – and do the dishes!
  • Wash the dishes in the sink at work.
  • Smile, and say thank you … a LOT.
  • Read to someone … a child, the elderly or someone who is ill.
  • Send someone a hand written note of thanks or appreciation.
  • Bring in a neighbor’s trash cans.
  • Tuck a “because I love you” note in your child’s lunchbox … and while you’re at it, in your spouse’s pocket or briefcase.
  • Do a chore that is normally your spouse’s job.
  • Send a note with cookies or flowers to a teacher who has dedicated their life to educating children.
  • Call or visit someone who is sick.
  • Offer to pick up a friend or a neighbor’s children from school or day care.
  • Take a neighbors newspaper laying out on their driveway to them or leave it at their front door.
  • Put some coins in an almost expired parking meter.
  • Compliment someone on how they look.
  • Ask someone how they are – and mean it.
  • Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  • Give someone (preferably that you know) a hug for no reason.
  • Reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile.
  • Leave a favorite book in a public place with an inspirational note.
  • Go 24 hours without saying anything negative about anyone – including you!
  • Run an errand for someone.
  • Donate a stack of $1 coloring books and small boxes of crayons to the pediatric wing of your local hospital.
  • Hold a door open – with flourish and a smile!
  • Donate your old / unused cell phone or eye glasses.
  • Send someone an e-card – just because – the funnier the better.

Let today be the day that you look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey. ~Steve Maraboli

  • Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
  • Forgive someone. Repeat as necessary.
  • Dedicate a song on the radio to someone you know listens to that station.
  • Practice patience.
  • Share a laugh.
  • Speak gently.
  • Really listen
  • One time, stop everything to help someone else.

The Random Acts of Kindness holiday was founded in New Zealand by Josh de Jong. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is the heart of their kindness movement which aims to help everyone create a better world by spreading awareness and increasing engagement in kind actions.

If you’d like to learn more about Allan Luk’s work and his concept of “Helper’s High” visit his website at allanluks.com. And for even more ideas on acts of kindness visit 24 Simple Ways to Make a Difference.

How about you? Do you make time for intentional acts of kindness in your life? If you have any favorite acts of kindness you’d be willing to share with us please leave a comment.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

 

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. Tim
    Twitter:
    says:

    You’re absolutely right in bringing this forward as it is a sad thing that random acts of kindness, or kindness in general, is just not part of the way we live our lives naturally.
    Tim recently posted…Oasis of the DesertMy Profile

  2. William Rusho
    Twitter:
    says:

    It is so important to understand what a single act of kindness can do. To someone who is suffering or is alone, this act can mean so much, sometimes it means everything in the world. Thanks for sharing

  3. Lenie
    Twitter:
    says:

    These are wonderful suggestions and you know what – I’ve done quite a few of them – didn’t seem like much at the time but reading your list, I thought, I did that. Pretty neat.
    Lenie recently posted…A Special Olympics ChampionMy Profile

  4. Patricia Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    Indeed if we look around the world we might think this is a much needed holiday. In my mind, we don’t have enough like this. Actually who the heck needs presidents day when people on the street don’t even KNOW what the names of many of them are? But I digress.

    My husband is way better with this than me. Maybe because he’s a veteran? Not sure. But I will say, selfishly, getting the smile or the thank you or look of surprise when I do extend something random, is the best reward.

    Thanks for the valuable list of examples of what we can do!
    Patricia Weber recently posted…Dog Inner Peace Wisdom on Valentines DayMy Profile

  5. Brenda Lee
    Twitter:
    says:

    I don’t think we need a holiday to tell us to be kind just like we don’t need one to tell our partners we love them. However, there are some pretty no-so-nice people in the world that really could use a daily reminder to be nice. 😉

    Great post!
    Brenda Lee recently posted…One Single Day To Pretend To Be RomanticMy Profile

  6. donna merrill
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Marquita,

    I didn’t know there was a day for Random Acts of Kindness. I guess it is something instilled in me since I was a kid to always be doing random acts of kindness.

    Giving a seat on a train to someone, helping the elders on our street when I was a kid to go shopping for them and do errands. Always cleaning my neighbors snow if I am the first one out…the list goes on and on.

    As an adult, it became part of my personality. It is all about thinking of others and awareness. Maybe that’s why they gave it a special day, to remind people to live this way 🙂

    -Donna
    donna merrill recently posted…When Customer Engagement Matters MostMy Profile

  7. Pamela Chollet
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love your list! Acts of kindness have a profound effect on the recipient. Years ago someone in line paid for my car wash after I discovered my wallet missing from my purse. Her act of kindness brought tears to my eyes. Since then if I’m ever standing behind someone and they’re short of cash while paying for items, I step up and cover the amount because I remember the women who helped me.
    Pamela Chollet recently posted…7 Self-Transformation Quotes That Will Change Your LifeMy Profile

  8. Donna Janke
    Twitter:
    says:

    I believe kindness should be a way of life, not a special day. However, having a day focused on acts of kindness or deliberately doing a specific number of acts of kindness to commemorate a birthday can help develop a kindness attitude.
    Several years ago while on the public transport bus in Vancouver leaving the downtown area, an elderly woman got on and sat down at the front. She delighted all around her as she talked to us. She said her age – I forget it now, but it was well over 80. She’d gone to the bookstore hoping a book she wanted was on sale. When she found out the price, she left the book on the counter and exited the store. Just as she walked out the store, the sales clerk ran after her, saying she forgot her book. The young man behind her in line had bought the book for her.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Going Gypsy: A Review and an InterviewMy Profile

  9. Phoenicia
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great suggestions!

    I agree that our acts of kindness should be deliberate. I instantly feel better when I have given something of myself whether it be time, encouragement or a gift.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Enjoy the momentMy Profile

  10. Christine Larsen
    Twitter:
    says:

    We count ourselves SO lucky Marquita, to live in a farming community where people have time… to smile, to be kind and friendly, to help and support.
    We surely miss this when we (rarely) go to the city – the acts of kindness are definitely not only ‘random’ there, but rare as well.
    Perhaps a Kindness day is just what our world needs, to remind us all of the power of caring and sharing.
    Christine Larsen recently posted…I LOVE MY SCOTTISH ANCESTRY… stillMy Profile

  11. Mark
    Twitter:
    says:

    What a fantastic post M! And I really love your opening quote by Edward Everett Hale!

    And your list of 40 random acts of kindness without preparation is extremely eye opening as well!

    And I see several that I can employ as well! So that’s really cool!

    This is just such a truly inspirational post M! And the message you share is so powerful! Thanks so much for sharing it!

    It just goes to show that we all can play an important part if we choose to!
    Mark recently posted…Why All Savvy Entrepreneurs Must Be Mindful Of The Deadly Allure Of Free Products And Services!My Profile

  12. Hi Marquita ,
    I think we should not need a special day for kindness 🙂
    It is a state of being and a way of living ,may be sometimes it is necessary to remind the world ,that kindness is needed >
    Thank you ,beautiful post as always .
    Erika
    Erika Mohssen-Beyk recently posted…Be Kind To YourselfMy Profile

  13. Dave
    Twitter:
    says:

    Our family is very intentional about random acts of kindness, and I can tell you from firsthand experience just how gratifying it is to help someone who may not be expecting it.

    I really like all the ideas that you provide Marty. There are two classifications to them – ones where you get to see a response from the individual you are being kind to, and ones where you don’t see the response (acts of kindness performed anonymously). Both, however, certainly provide that euphoric feeling inside. It seems to be all about our innate desire as human beings to be connected to one another. And sharing/helping another – even in the tiniest way – helps to foster that connection.

    I personally like the idea of a holiday, if for no other reason than it could cultivate a habit of kindness in the people around us. Just one act of kindness (either given or received) can snowball in the best way possible. Thanks for bringing these wonderful ideas to light Marty 🙂
    Dave recently posted…Unspoken voiceMy Profile

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