Photo: My mom volunteered to read to my daughter’s third-grade class as a random act of kindness.
By definition, a random act of kindness is a non-premeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness toward the outside world.
You may hear of folks paying it forward when they pay for the person behind them in line at a coffee shop or drive-through. Not only does this spread positive energy and vibes to the receiver of the generosity, but it can also bring just as much happiness to the giver.
The phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” was, according to Wikipedia, coined by Anne Herbert on a placemat in Sausalito, California, in 1982. It was based on the phrase “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty.” Herbert’s book Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty was published in February 1993.
And if you’ve seen the movie Evan Almighty with Jim Carrey, at the end of the film, God tells the main character, Evan, that the way to change the world is by doing one random act of kindness every day.
The Role of Karma
I guess you could say this process is sort of like Karma: Karma in the sense that the result of a person’s actions as well as the actions themselves is a cycle of cause and effect. According to this theory, what happens to a person happens because they caused it with their past actions.
So, if you do something nice for someone, the hope is that they will, in turn, do something nice for someone else, and this will continue. Eventually, kindness will be in such abundance that it will be paid back to you as well.
I often encourage my daughters to pay it forward whenever possible, especially when it comes to their classmates. Our elementary school motto is “be kind” (#bekind). It is written on all of the walls in the school building and is on all of the branded school gear. It serves as a reminder that they do not tolerate bullying, and if you have the chance to be anything, be kind.
The 30-Day Random Acts of Kindness Challenge
When I decided to initiate the Random Acts of Kindness Challenge, I asked my daughters what are some things they can do to participate. One of my daughters said if she sees someone in the cafeteria who is eating alone—maybe because they are too shy to sit with others or perhaps they have no friends—you should sit with them. My other daughter said if you see someone else being bullied, you should step in and comfort them, and if you are not able to do so, you should get an adult to step in.
For those of us looking for some more grown-up ideas, I have created a list of random acts of kindness to help give you ideas of things you can do. Select one for each of the next 30 days, and report back, letting me know what you did and how it was received. If you come up with your own random acts, I would love to hear about them! And remember, it’s not about the recognition, it is about brightening someone else’s day—just because.
As you can see, I provided more than 30 options, so you have some options if one of them doesn’t fit into your life. You’ll also notice you don’t have to spend money to practice random acts of kindness, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming.
When you wake up in the morning, you can choose to be anything you want. I hope you choose to be kind (#bekind), especially this entire month with the 30-day kindness challenge.