Many of us could use more support in our lives. But with our nearest and dearest often feeling rushed and over-extended, this may be hard to come by. Unless someone performs a random act of kindness: caring, in some small way, for another not remotely related to them.
Entrepreneur Steve Streit’s mother Patti taught her four children about love and generosity by performing random acts of kindness on a daily basis. Having instilled these values in her children, once she passed, Steve founded the nonprofit Patti’s Way to continue her good work in the world. Patti’s Way gives grants and assistance to single parents with minor children to help them through tough times.
Sometimes a smile or a kind word can make all the difference in someone’s life. Here are half a dozen easy ways to perform random acts of kindness:
- Give a compliment. You never know what someone else is going through. A woman who had just lost a dear family member went into a coffee shop, but the espresso machine was broken and the barista was stressed. The grieving patron ordered tea instead, smiled, and encouraged the barista to hang in there. The coffee shop worker wrote, “Your soul is golden,” on her take-out cup. The exchange moved both women deeply. It was a seemingly tiny act of kindness that uplifted two people in need.
- Give something small away. In one study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers asked participants to give a cup of hot chocolate to a stranger at an ice skating rink. The people doing the kindness consistently underestimated just how greatly this small act of kindness was appreciated by the recipients. We all tend to miscalculate how deeply our smallest actions can affect others.
- Be grateful. A blind woman was being moved from her home into an assisted living residence, and her aide was describing the new apartment to her so she could develop a sense of it prior to the actual move. Not long into her description, the senior woman exclaimed, “Oh, I just love it!” Her companion said, “But you haven’t even seen it yet.” The woman replied, “I can tell it’s beautiful and I’m so happy I get to live here!” That is gratitude.
- Share. A great way for children to learn random acts of kindness is to share their “possessions.” If a child offers to share his crayons or his snack with a classmate, this will brighten both their days and instill the values of sharing and kindness early.
- Do a bliss bombing. A personal growth exercise puts one participant in a chair in the center of a circle, and one by one, each participant goes up and walks around the seated person, showering them with what they like and appreciate about the seated person. This is antithetical to a fault-finding society, and builds self-esteem in a major way.
- Give your time. In a culture where time is a precious commodity, one of the most wonderful random acts of kindness is to give someone your time. Do you know an overwhelmed parent, an elder who finds chores increasingly difficult, or a person with a disability who would love a good chat? Whether it involves running errands, holding a fussy baby, or simply lending a listening ear, offering another the gift of your time is a beautiful act of kindness.
The world needs more kindness, and it begins with each of us. When you offer a smile, helping hand, or kind word to another, you brighten their day and reap the rewards many times over.