This week, February 11-17th, is Random Acts of Kindness Week. And while of course we don’t need a reason or a special week to perform small random acts of kindness and would certainly benefit from practicing regularly throughout the year, having a few days set aside with this intention can be a wonderful community motivation towards taking better care of one another and widening our sometimes, maybe usually, self-involved state of mind.
When we take care of others we are also taking care of ourselves and when we take care of ourselves we are also taking care of others. This is the heart of the teaching on interbeing. We are all connected. To say that we are separate from someone is not entirely correct and along those same lines to say that we are the same is also equally incorrect. We are both the same and different in many beautiful ways. When we get in touch with our connectedness as a human community we are also getting in touch with our own true nature.
It is easy to think that small acts cannot possibly add up to much and that it takes grand gestures to affect change. Just like a bucket sitting out in a drizzle gets filled up to its brim one drop at a time our seemingly small acts of kindness are not only extremely significant they ripple out much further then we might think. Please do not underestimate your impact on those around you and your environment. One smile can be like the sun shining through a thick gray sky, offer them freely and often.
The more we practice anything the more we keep practicing. Let us practice kindness to ourselves and others everyday so as to cultivate understanding and compassion from deep within us. Yes, that’s right, I also put ourselves into the mix! Every practice we do starts with us. Often the most challenging person to offer kindness and care to is ourselves so please remember to practice with that person too!
After some rooting around online here are some ideas I found to start our week off with, and I added some of my own too:
- Send someone a hand written note of thanks.
- Make a card at home and send it to a friend for no reason.
- Buy a lottery ticket for a stranger.
- Put some coins in someone else’s parking meter.
- Buy a coffee for the man on the high street selling The Big Issue magazine.
- Cut your neighbour’s hedge.
- Walk your friend’s dog.
- Give a compliment about your waiter / waitress to his / her manager.
- Send someone a small gift anonymously.
- Stop and help someone replace their flat tire.
- Let someone jump the queue at the bank.
- Pay for the drinks on the next table at a café.
- Treat a friend to the movies for no reason.
- Give a huge tip to someone when they least expect it.
- Hold the train door open for someone rushing to get in.
- Give up your seat for someone, not just an elderly person.
- Write notes of appreciation at least once a week.
- Talk to a homeless person and have a “normal” conversation.
- Pick up some rubbish in the road which would otherwise be lying around.
- Compliment a work colleague for their excellence.
- Recommend a competitor to a potential client.
- Give another driver your parking spot.
- Give a piece of fruit to a delivery person.
- Help an elderly neighbour carry the rubbish out.
- Tell all your family members how much your appreciate them.
- Leave a copy of an interesting book on a train / bus.
- Buy an inspirational book for a friend.
- Send a thank you note to a person who has helped you in the past.
- Smile a lot.
- Pay for someone’s coffee at a coffee bar.
- Donate used books to a children’s shelter.
- Return a shopping cart.
- Buy a flower for someone you don’t know.
- Visit an animal shelter.
- Be kind to someone you dislike.
- Give out candy :)
- Thank your mail carrier.
- Shovel snow for a neighbor.
- Bake a cake for a neighbor.
- Do something to water your own seeds of joy.
- Practice deep listening.
- Collect food for your local food bank.
- Put a sign up in the back window of your car with a smiley face or other nice message.
- Remember to be kind to mother earth as well: use your own shopping bags at the grocery store.
- Give a treasured item you own away.