Ever help carry someone’s groceries, drop cookies off at your neighbor’s or slip a few quarters into an about-to-expire parking meter? Or maybe you smiled at a stranger walking by, helped an elderly woman step down from the bus or made a funny face to distract a fussy child.
If so, then you’re already a pro at practicing random acts of kindness, which means you’re all kinds of ready for Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 16-22.
If you’re not sure what qualifies as a random act of kindness, think of it as a kind word, gesture or act you do just because. There’s no ulterior motive or expectation of reciprocity and it’s often spontaneous. The idea is to spread love, good will and kindness in the world.
While most of us probably act in many kind ways every day without much thought, Random Acts of Kindness Day is a chance for us to act together worldwide on a single day. Imagine the impact mass quantities of kindness can have! It’s also an excellent opportunity to talk to our kids about what it means to be kind and how it makes others feel when we help them or let them know they’re important. This is a simple concept even the youngest child can relate to.
Encourage your child to smile at people, write a note of thanks to the trash collector or sit next to the new kid in their class. They can share their toys, send a card to a grandparent or friend or paint kindness rocks to leave around the neighborhood. These are all small but powerful acts that encourage the natural goodness in your child’s heart.
You can also bring attention to the ways your child already practices kindness. Does she feed the family dog or rub his belly? That’s an act of kindness. Does he hug his younger sibling when she’s sad or scared? That’s an act of kindness. Noticing when our kids are kind and pointing out the positive impact their words and actions have on others builds their self-confidence.
Here’s another reason to be kind: even though random acts of kindness are meant to boost others, being kind also has the awesome side effect of making us emotionally and physically healthier.
Several studies show that people who volunteer helping others report feeling “stronger and more energetic…calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth,” reports an article at Greater Good Magazine.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up when you act kindly towards others, either by volunteering or donating money. It’s the same response the brain has if you were the recipient of a good deed rather than the giver.
Kindness is a win-win all around and Random Acts of Kindness Week is a wonderful way to kick off a mindful kindness practice. We’d love to know about your random acts of kindness so tag us in your social posts for a chance to be featured on the Mindful Littles feed!