Building Community One Act of Kindness at a Time

Today is National Random Acts of Kindness Day and I’ll be honest, I don’t love the term “random act of kindness”.  Now, to be sure, I think it is awesome when someone spontaneously demonstrates kindness through a spur of the moment act.  However, I guess it’s the random part of that phrase that I don’t like.  Random means that something happens without conscious thought.  Maybe it just sounds like semantics but hear me out…

Let’s start with some examples of “random acts of kindness” that I found when I searched for ideas for Random Act of Kindness Day:

  1. Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line at Starbucks.
  2. Write a note telling someone how much you appreciate them.
  3. Donate blood.
  4. Write a letter to a deployed member of the military through Operation Gratitude.
  5. As a class, take time to write letters to the custodians to thank them for their work AND leave the classroom spotless to make their job easier.

Don’t get me wrong, these are awesome acts of kindness!!  However, they aren’t random, they are calculated and take time and effort.  To me, a random act of kindness is something that happens on the spur of the moment, is (mostly) uncalculated, and (usually) is a small act that demonstrates someone’s care and respect.  Here are some examples of what I see as true Random Acts of Kindness:

  1. Help someone carry their groceries to their car.
  2. Hold the door for one or more people coming behind you.
  3. Pick up a piece of trash that happens to be in your path.
  4. Compliment someone genuinely (bonus for doing this with a stranger).
  5. Help someone pay for something they may not have enough cash to cover.

Okay, so you’re all thinking, “What happened to Bret, did he wake up on the wrong side of the bed today or what, who cares if it’s random or not?!?”  I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that to me, the word “random” cheapens the act of kindness.  We should really be talking about kindness as something that is conscious, intentional, and common. Kindness shouldn’t be reserved for a special day and it shouldn’t just be random.  As educators we have a lot of power here, in the way that we talk about kindness with our students and in our community.  Kindness is a VERY powerful thing!! It should be intentional, it should be conscious, and it should be prioritized!

Want to know how powerful?  Watch this video:  It’s only 2:15 long and does an excellent job of explaining the Science of Kindness.

I don’t care if you call it random or not (you can ignore that rant if you’d like), the important parts are the acts of kindness themselves.  We need more of them, we need to be teaching and encouraging them with our students, and all of this will make everyone happier.  

 I’ll leave you with this thought:  If kindness really has the power described in the video above, what might happen if all of our students were to become focused on acts of kindness and making people feel happy?

 

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