Random Acts of Kindness: Why one act benefits us all

In the midst of an often mundane life, an act of kindness from a stranger is a breath of fresh air, reminding us that we are all human and that we don’t have to cure world hunger or stop global warming to make an impact—a simple act of kindness is all it takes. The Random Act of Kindness Foundation that has created Random Act of Kindness week (February 11-17) to encourage and promote kind acts that are done just for the sake of being kind.

The foundation states on it’s website that it is founded upon the powerful belief in kindness and is dedicated to providing resources and tools that encourage acts of kindness; a great mission, indeed. But why create an entire week dedicated to promoting random acts of kindness as an outreach initiative in a world that is often too busy, too overworked and too uninspired to show common courtesy half of the time? A more appropriate question might be how can we afford not to?! Everyone could use a little more kindness; we can all agree on that. Here’s why Random Acts of Kindness week is such a great means for creating a kinder world:

It’s Easy

Random acts of kindness have an incredibly high impact-to-effort ratio. It is a very simple way to put a smile on someone’s face. An act as simple as paying for the person behind you in the drive-through or stopping for a pedestrian trying to cross the street can make someone’s day and maybe even their week. I still remember the effect it had on me when one morning my freshman year of college I went to unchain my bike from the bike rack after a rainy night to discover that a stranger had tied a plastic bag over my bike seat to keep it dry.

It’s Rewarding

Not only do kind acts have a deep impact on the receiver, but it just feels good. My grandma always had a saying she’d use when I was younger and I’d complain about having to do my sister’s share of the kitchen duties from time to time: “It’s nice to be nice.” It may not have made me feel warm and fuzzy inside at the time but now that I’m older I understand that  a smile, a surprised expression or a sigh of relief can be worth so much more than the 5 or 10 minutes I would have probably wasted doing something else. Kindness is it’s own reward.

It’s Contagious

Of all of the reasons, this one might be the most important. If you’ve spent time around any young children you might have encountered a “gift-giver.” This child will give you a special gift, be it a rock, a flower, a paperclip, or a worm, and because of your gratitude continues to search for more gifts to give you. Kindness encourages more kindness.

The giver recognizes the joy their simple act gave someone and is encouraged to continue performing kind acts. Meanwhile, the person on the receiving end of kindness feels the need to somehow pay it forward. Because of the nature of random acts of kindness, it’s not always possible to return the favor to the same person so the receiver does the next best thing and focuses their thoughtfulness to somebody else. Lastly, those who hear about the kind acts and the receiver’s gratitude now have a seed planted in their head. They are led to think, “Hey, maybe I should do something like that, too.” It’s a win-win that results in an all-around nicer world.

In honor of Random Acts of Kindness Week, I’m sharing a video of how one thoughtful university student chose to spend his 22nd birthday. When most of us would be stuffing our faces with birthday cake and enjoying any gifts (though I’m sure some of his day was spent doing that as well), this man decided to spend his day performing 22 acts of kindness to strangers he encountered.  The man in this video, Syed Muzamil Hasan Zaidi, was inspired by Robyn Bomar, who spent her 38th birthday performing 38 random acts of kindness (see? It’s contagious).

With that in mind, have a look at this video, be inspired and then remember it’s never too late to give a little unexpected kindness to someone around you as well.

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