It is Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17 – an event celebrated internationally. Founded in the belief that even the simplest gestures can have a profound and positive impact on the world, the day is marked by individuals, groups and organisations.
Perceptions of what an act of kindness is can vary from person to person. A man handing out cash to complete strangers in a supermarket is one example that grabbed the headlines. But, for some, simply being kind to someone who, for whatever reason, has been overlooked is what it is all about.
The Be Kind movement that followed the tragic death of Caroline Flack opened people’s eyes to the vulnerability of others. It threw a spotlight on the pressures of life and how, sometimes, we don’t take the time to consider the true, devastating impact. Saying the right words at the right time, being there for someone who really needs a shoulder to cry on and not rushing to judgement can literally save a person’s life. Simply thinking twice before making a hurtful remark and giving someone a break from sustained criticism or unwanted attention can have a similar effect.
Random acts of kindness are different because they are not constant. Unfamiliar, unexpected and haphazard, they are commonly executed as a one-off grand gesture designed to bring a sudden burst of joy into a person’s life. But they can also be a plain action with no monetary value – often priceless to the recipient.
Real-Life Examples of Kindness
Some of the most impactful acts of kindness are carried out by people totally unknown to beneficiaries. They prefer to be anonymous because they do not want recognition for their good deeds. Just knowing in their own hearts that they have made a difference to someone else’s life is all that matters.
A single mum who needed life-saving stem cell treatment in America was given the gift of life by one such stranger. He knocked on Stephanie Headley’s door and handed her an envelope containing a banker’s draft for almost £100,000. No name. No long conversation about why he was making a donation to her fundraiser. Just a smile as he turned and walked away.
In Cheshire, the owner a barber’s shop which was forced to close because of the pandemic received an anonymous act of kindness through the post. Paul Johnson said he was moved to tears after being sent £40 and a note saying it was to help his business survive lockdown. He was told to consider it payment for a virtual hair cut.
Gavin Frost from Scotland was given the gift of a new kidney last Christmas from an anonymous organ donor. And in Kent, an unknown artist is leaving beautiful glass hearts in gift packs for people to randomly find.
Right now, across the UK, selfless individuals are helping communities by donating their time. You will find some manning food banks, others assisting with the roll-out of the vaccination programme and many more fetching and carrying everything from prescriptions to food for their housebound neighbours.
Why It Is Good To Be Kind
Doing something good for someone else makes us feel good. It can also strengthen relationships, improve the way we are perceived by others and instill a sense of purpose in life. Not only that, it can boost our overall well-being by making us happier and more content.
According to Karyn Hall, writing in Psychology Today, there is one act of kindness that many overlook – being kind to ourselves. Like other experts, she believes people often neglect to take care of themselves while heaping attention on friends, family members and strangers. It is always good to be kind to people, but looking after our own emotional and physical health should not take a back seat.
As explained in many articles on this website, feeling good about ourselves can help us look good too. Contentment can help us live longer and appear younger. That is because self-love and good vibes boost the mood, reducing stress and the release of damaging hormones. You can read more about stress and the ageing process here.
Ideas For Random Acts of Kindness Day
This year is unlike any other. We can’t visit people’s homes, take someone out for a coffee or arrange a surprise party. Not even a hug is possible. But there are plenty of things we can do that will have a similar effect.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Give someone you have neglected a call or write them a kind message on social media
- Send a thoughtful card through the post
- Offer to help a neighbour with shopping. If you have to visit a supermarket anyway, you won’t have to go out of your way to be kind
- Smile at the person who is delivering a purchase to your door
- Compliment someone on a job well done
- Boost someone’s mood with a small gift
Being kind doesn’t have to cost anything. But if you want to treat a friend, stranger or just yourself, here are some simple gift ideas. All the products featured below can be ordered online and delivered directly to the recipient. Click an image for further information.
- The Daily Press, Toronto
- Nothwich Guardian, Cheshire
- Kent Online
- The Courier, Scotland
- Psychology Today, Karyn Hall Ph.D
Today’s note to readers: Writing about random acts of kindness has made me consider what I have done to be kind to others over the past year. Have I done enough? Has it all been about me?
The reflection process has led me to remember the kindnesses that have made a difference to my life. I never met Tommy Starr – and not because of the pandemic. He lived literally thousands of miles away with his loving wife Kathy in America but, when I needed it the most, he was the person who brightened my day. Tommy was the ‘father’ of the Chemotherapy Support Group on Facebook. Every day, no matter how bad he was feeling, he posted images of weird and wonderful cakes – the kind of cakes that would make anyone, no matter how ill they were, feel hungry.
Sadly, Tommy lost his battle with cancer – something that came as a terrible shock to the 8,000-odd of us in the group. Today, he is remembered by members who continue his habit of posting images of cakes. I have kept the spirit of his kindness alive, I hope, by being one of many to respond to those just starting on their chemotherapy journey and seeking practical answers to common questions. Having gone through it and come out the other side with a very positive result, I want to reassure people that it is ‘doable’ and that there will be plenty of good days during treatment.
There is selfishness in all of us. Being kind is a positive way of dealing with a negative. Simply thanking someone who has shown you support or reminding yourself to say nice things can have a huge impact. Being kind to animals and the planet are important too.
So, thank you for reading this post. And remember, it is good to be kind.