The Oxford English Dictionary defines “random” as “Having no definite aim or purpose; not set or guided in a particular direction; made, done, occurring, etc., without method or conscious choice; haphazard.”
I am asking you to completely disregard the Oxford Dictionary definition of random. Instead, I want you to celebrate National Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17th, 2016 and every day that follows with intention, purpose and a directed desire to bring goodness into the lives of others.
In a world that is becoming increasingly more intrigued and dependent on electronic mediums for social connection, opportunities for authentic displays of kindness occur less and less, and yet the need for intentional injections of goodness only seem to be growing. Now, more than ever, is a good time to explore the ways in which you can contribute to improving and expanding your current curriculum of kindness.
STEP 1- Open Your Mind to the Possibilities
Kindness is subjective and has endless potential. There is no right or wrong way to be kind. It doesn’t need to involve money, excessive amounts of time or pre-planning. It can be free, fast and spontaneous. Don’t handcuff your kindness capacity by over thinking or over doing. Look for all the opportunities to be kind that can exist on an hourly, daily, monthly and yearly basis. Open a door, give up a seat, carry groceries for a stranger, write (and I mean handwrite) a letter to a loved one, or help a friend declutter their home. Anything that fills a potential need (or want) for someone is an act of kindness, it’s that simple. The biggest mistake you can make is not doing something under the presumption that it’s not enough.
STEP 2- Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Put forth gestures of good will to both those who you know and those who you don’t. Acknowledge and accept that the response to kind gestures can be diverse. Responses can include thankfulness, appreciation, dismay, reluctance, embarrassment and can even hold the potential for rejection. Do not let fear of response, or a fear of lack of response, prevent you from engaging in kindness building behaviours. Every day has the potential for you to cross paths with tens, hundreds and in some cases thousands of people. Finding opportunities to share goodwill is only limited by your willingness to share a smile with a stranger or open a difficult conversation with someone who you know could use a sounding board. The reality is, if you think of something you would appreciate or value, that same act would most likely be appreciated and valued by someone else.
STEP 3- Make a Commitment
This is not a one-time thing. Commitment to a culture of kindness cannot be random or haphazard. It means that every day you work to find ways to inject kindness into the lives of others and ultimately into the universe. It means waking up in the morning with kindness as part of your to do list; recognizing that you, they, us, are bonded together only by our intentional willingness to value and support each other. That ultimately, our humanity is dependent on our ongoing commitment to kindness.
STEP 4- Let the Illusion of Altruism Go
Who cares that the idea of altruism tells us we should have selfless concern for others or that we should give of ourselves with no hope or expectation of any payback. Be kind because it feels good, because doing something thoughtful just feels good, seriously, it does. Give of yourself because it leaves you feeling energized, warm, and like your presence in the lives of others counts for something. That is payback and it’s completely okay if that keeps you motivated to continue looking for and thinking about ways to offer and share kindness.
STEP 5– Start Today. Stop Never. Celebrate Yourself.
Don’t wait for February 17th and don’t stop on February 18th. Decide right now what will mark the beginning (or the official beginning) of your infinite kindness.
Today I am going to donate some gently used household items to the many refugee families who are in need, tomorrow I am going to change the water cooler at work, the day after that I will play it by ear knowing that the potential and the possibilities are endless.
Does that sound “random”? I think not.
Sheri Coburn, MSW, RSW
Trainer, Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute Inc.
© CTRI Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute Inc. (www.ctrinstitute.com)
Content of this blog may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute Inc.