Have you ever let someone who has just a few items jump in front of you in line at the grocery store? Or left an extra-generous tip for a person working in a low-paying service job?
Perhaps you saw a homeless person on a street corner and offered them half a sandwich while stopped at a traffic light. Or, after seeing destitute people standing at an intersection, you go out and buy basic personal supplies and keep them in your car to give away to those in need.
Practicing random acts of kindness such as these is a simple and easy way to make the world a better place.
When you do this, it also resets your own heart and mind for peace and benevolence. It feels good to help our fellow humans, whether they are strangers or people we interact with every day at work or school.
That’s what Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17 is all about. There’s also Random Acts of Kindness Week February 12-20. But you don’t have to wait to start making the world a better place and lifting your own spirits in the process.
The late author and journalist Anne Herbert coined the phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” in 1982. According to Wikipedia, she lived in Marin County and later for seven years in Haight-Ashbury “in the guise of a street person, while writing and editing.”
Herbert co-authored the children’s book “Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty” which was published in 1993. She came up with the concept of random acts of kindness in response to another phrase about random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty.
Four decades later, we are still reeling from the cruelty of random violence here in California, and across our nation and the world. Although they may seem small in the face of violence and war, the acts of kindness we practice are a powerful way we can bring peace to the world, one person at a time.
A few years ago I wrote: “I do believe that people can make a difference and create a better world. I believe I am my brother’s and sister’s keeper. And that our brothers and sisters are all humankind, not just people like us.”
That was in my first book, “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos,” (now available on audiobook). I was talking about how Loving Kindness Meditation can make us more compassionate to others and ourselves.
Start by taking some deep breaths and repeating these phrases, or ones like them:
May I be loved.
May I be healthy.
May I be safe.
May I be happy.
Now expand your meditation outward as you consider those you know and love, people you encounter in your daily life, and people everywhere.
You are loved.
May you be safe.
May you be healthy.
May you be happy.
By practicing Loving Kindness, we soften and heal our hearts. We treat ourselves and others more gently and compassionately. While it is intentional and directed, it can also be considered a random act of kindness, and can open our hearts to treating others with more kindness and compassion.
Looking for more ideas on how you can practice Random Acts of Kindness?
Check out this article or visit the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. You’ll find ideas for putting kindness into action at work, at school, at home and in the world.
And remember, when it comes to spreading kindness, the little things add up!