Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.Leo Buscaglia
Sometimes it’s the smallest act that makes the biggest impact – something as simple as saying please or thank you can turn a day around and make life seem that much better.
Random Acts of Kindness Day encourages you to get out there and be the light you want to see in the world.
History of Random Acts of Kindness Day
Random Acts of Kindness Day was first created in Denver, Colorado in 1995 by a small nonprofit organization, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation; nine years later it spread to New Zealand in 2004. Random Acts of Kindness can include just about anything, including something as simple a taking a tray of muffins to work.
The idea behind this holiday is to make the world a better place by spreading a little light around and to make kindness a part of our everyday lives. Lift someone up with your words, compliment them on their appearance… even the simplest acts can help to brighten someone’s day.
Although Random Acts of Kindness Day hasn’t been around all that long, kindness itself certainly has! In fact, various studies have concluded that kindness is an inherent part of human nature, with the ability to feel and care for others developing while we’re still babies.
The importance of altruism has long been a topic of discussion in the realms of philosophy, psychology, sociology, and evolutionary biology. There are various theories for why people gravitate towards benevolent behavior – perhaps it’s because doing good deeds for others increases the likelihood that they’ll return the favor if we ever need help in the future, perhaps kindness is hardwired into our brains to aid social attachment and group cohesion, perhaps it’s simply a product of our ability to feel empathy for others. Whatever kindness’s origins,
Random Acts of Kindness Day is a way to nurture and encourage this precious trait we all share.
National Random Acts of Kindness Day Timeline
Anne Herbert writes an inspirational quote on a placemat
As a response to the more negative quote of “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty”, author Anne Herbert is inspired to write the phrase “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a placemat at a restaurant in Sausalito, California.
Anne Herbert’s book Random Acts of Kindness is published
Continuing to mull over the idea of stories that portray random acts of kindness, Herbert finally writes her book of the same name.
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is established
Created as an opportunity for individuals and communities to intentionally spread kindness, this organization provides resources and materials to help people “make kindness the norm”.
Feb 17, 1995
First Random Acts of Kindness Day is celebrated
Created by the above-mentioned organization in Denver, Colorado, this becomes a day to celebrate being kind for absolutely no reason at all! Activities include leaving love notes, creating a kindness jar, offering blessing bags, giving flowers to strangers and much more.
New Zealand establishes National Random Acts of Kindness Day
Called ‘RAK Day’, this day becomes an official national day in New Zealand and reaches all throughout the country (September 1). The idea also continues spreading through many countries around the world.
The benefits of kindness
There was a wise man who once shared a concept: “Do not think of those who are in need, such as panhandlers, as seeking charity. They are, instead, providing a service. A service that allows you to get your fix of feel good while simultaneously paying someone for providing it.”
Besides brightening someone else’s day and making the world a better place, there are plenty of beneficial side effects to altruism. Indeed, research has shown that the very act of doing something for someone else gives us a chemical high, a higher one, in fact, than if something had been done for us.
When we show generosity to others, our bodies release various hormones such as serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins that can improve our health and overall wellbeing. Oxytocin, for example, helps lower blood pressure and increases feelings of optimism, while serotonin makes us happier, calmer and even has a healing effect! Simple acts of random kindness can reduce pain, anxiety and stress while increasing our energy, lifespan and happiness – what’s not to love?!
Another great thing about kindness is that it’s contagious. By starting with ourselves, we can inspire those around us to also act with warmth and care. This butterfly effect has been epitomized in various art projects, for example the YouTube video “Kindness Boomerang” by Life Vest Inside and the movie Pay It Forward – both demonstrate that by setting off a series of generous acts we can influence and improve the world around us.
How to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day
Random Acts of Kindness come in all forms, large and small, and how you choose to perform yours is entirely up to you. It can start with dropping a bit of change in the cup of the homeless person along the street, or considering the time of year, providing a warm blanket to see them through. You could take a friend out to lunch, for no other reason than that they’re your friend. See someone looking down? Drop a hot coffee or tea on their desk with a smile and tell them to have a great day. Even just smiling at someone and wishing them a good day could have a profound impact.
It’s definitely worth checking out websites such as the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, as they’ll provide plenty of great resources to support with increasing gestures of goodwill. These include lots of ideas and suggestions for how to celebrate and resources for schools and workplaces. And if you’re keen to incorporate even more altruism into your life, random acts of kindness certainly don’t need to be confined to just this one day! Various sites offer fun and quirky ways to make random kindness a regular habit, for example calendars with prompts for each day of the year.
As long as you’re spreading warmth and generosity in the world it doesn’t really matter how you celebrate, but if you want to ensure that your acts are truly random, then why not use a spinner to select activities or fill up a jar with ideas and pick them out by chance!
Lots of organizations will provide discounts, special offers and giveaways to celebrate the day – keep an eye out for what’s available and if you spot something good, why not share it with your family, friends, social media followers or a stranger on the street. You could even enter on their behalf and surprise them!
On Random Acts of Kindness Day, help yourself by helping others – the smile on their face and yours will prove it’s all worth it.