There is another important date in February, 3 days after Valentines Day, one you may not be familiar with. On the 17th February it is National Random Acts of Kindness Day.
The definition of a random act of kindness, or RAoK as it is often abbreviated to, is a selfless act performed by kind people to either help or cheer up a random stranger, for no reason other than to make people happier.
You know those supermarket vouchers you get through the post, the ones for random products, 20p off this or 10p off that. The mouthwash you will never use, flavoured water you do not like, the spread that is not your regular one. I used to just throw those vouchers in the bin, but over the last three months I have kept them. Then as I wander around doing my usual family shopping, I put the unwanted voucher onto the top of the corresponding product. There it sits waiting for the stranger, shopping for the product they really want and finding a money off voucher right next to it. I hope this cheers them up, maybe even inspires them to create their own random acts of kindness.
At home, on the wall, we have a yellow circle of card, about the circumference of a cup. Whenever my wife, daughter or myself recognise an act of kindness one of us has done, a description of the act is written on a rectangular yellow strip and my daughter then sticks it onto the edge of the yellow circle. When 12 strips have been added to the circle we have a completed sunshine. Next as a family we decide on an activity to do. Once it was “Let’s go to space Dad” which started a trip to Leicester’s Space Centre, “I want to see the Christmas decorations at B&Q”, “Let’s bake cookies” were others. It has not only allowed for fun activities for the family, it has made us recognise the wonderful kind acts that we do for each other, that were all too easy to take for granted, not recognise and not say thank you for. The more we find we recognise them, the more we want to do.
In an age of austerity, we can often forget that kindness is free. Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Imagine doing something for no other reason than to make another person happy. A search of RAoK reveals lists of ideas and I thought I would just highlight a few. Maybe you will do just one on the 17th? Maybe one on a different day, just to make a someone happy.
• Donate colouring books and crayons to the waiting room at the hospital, doctors etc.
• Write a letter to someone (teacher, parent, neighbour, etc.) who has made a difference in your life and thank them.
• Offer to watch someone’s children so they can take a break
• Tell a random parent you see that they are doing a good job
• Let someone go ahead of you at the supermarket
• Make goodies for your neighbours
• Let your partner sleep in, or even take them breakfast in bed
• Leave random sticky notes with fun or kind quotes on the bathroom mirror at your place of work
• Pick up some litter
• Go to a retirement home and visit anyone who looks lonely
• Leave nice comments on random blogs
• Compliment someone randomly (whether you know them or not)
• Hold the door for someone
• Draw a picture and hand it to a passer by
• Donate canned food items to the local food bank
• Drop change around a playground for children to find
• Volunteer somewhere; an animal shelter, homeless shelter, food bank
You can be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.
I would love to hear your ideas. What did you do? Did someone act kindly to you and how did it make you feel? Which ideas do you love?
Karl McCormack, Lecturer in the Staffordshire Business School