Practicing random acts of kindness is a deliberate attempt to brighten another person’s day by doing something thoughtful, nice, and heartfelt. Kindness is a way of showing others that they count. It is a spiritual practice which sends the message that generosity, kindness, and compassion are the kind of virtues that define a healthy society.
By practicing kind acts toward others, you’re helping to create a kindness-aware climate, fostering communities that value generosity of spirit and action.
In a study published in an online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have provided evidence that cooperative behavior is contagious. When people receive kindness they tend to “pay kindness forward” by showing kindness to others. This cascade of kindness and generosity spreads, creating a multiplier effect. Each act of kindness is like a “matching grant” of (reciprocal) kindness that is truly contagious (James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis, “Connected: The surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(9) 5334 – 5338, March, 2010).
There are many ways of practicing kindness of which these are just a few:
- Cook a healthy meal for someone,
- clean a friend’s house,
- give some change to another customer to help pay for his/her purchase,
- thank your bus or taxi driver,
- deliver a dessert to firefighters and/or school teachers,
- help a child start a piggy bank,
- help someone find a job,
- mow a senior citizen’s lawn,
- pay someone’s parking meter before it expires,
- leave Post-it Notes with inspirational messages on them for colleagues to see.
Since we’re sewing acts of kindness here’s a few more:
- send someone an eCard,
- spend time with someone who needs someone who will listen,
- buy someone a book,
- write a positive blog post,
- praise someone,
- give a homeless person something to wear,
- show compassion to someone you may dislike,
- send notes of appreciation,
- give money to down and out people on the side of the road,
- be generous with compliments.
We hope these acts of kindness give you ideas of how you can spread a little compassion and just plain common courtesy. And because we’re on such a roll, here’s some more ideas that just might speak to you:
- say ‘Bless you’ when someone sneezes,
- post inspirational quotes or pictures on your Facebook page,
- help someone financially,
- pet-sit for someone,
- email a quick note to a friend who needs to ‘hear’ a kind word,
- let someone go in line in front of you,
- take a photo of people who want to capture a vacation moment together,
- wash someone’s car,
- give theatre tickets away for free,
- shovel snow for a neighbor,
- tip big for extraordinary customer service,
- treat a friend to some fresh fruit,
- politely let another driver merge in front of you,
- call a friend who is sick,
- give a napkin folded into a rose to a waitress for her excellent service.
Practicing random acts of kindness is a spiritual practice that is congruent with the very concept of practicing spirituality itself. So this week, be on the lookout for every opportunity to practice random acts of kindness … and be aware of how you feel … as you walk the spiritual path on practical feet!