February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day. What a great time of year for such a positive celebration! Just as we are feeling winter (in the longest year of our lives) may never end, we are blessed with a day dedicated to kindness. Although a day focused on being kind is totally amazing, I like to think we should all strive to make kindness a part of our daily lives throughout the entire year. I can think of several recent examples of unsolicited kindness thrown our direction – a surprise Thanksgiving pie on the porch from friends, a painted pet rock dropped off by a sweet little neighbor for my daughter, a coworker who lifted the windshield wipers on every car in the parking lot during an ice storm. No act is too small. And, for me, these never go unnoticed. Even a kind cashier in the checkout line can leave me feeling good for the rest of the afternoon.
As parents, many of us hope we are raising kind little humans. What better way to help them learn than to model kind behavior ourselves? We can teach our children by our example. We can also teach them through the books we read together. A great book to help young children understand being kind and how our behaviors affect others is, Have you Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud. Another one of our favorites is the sweet book Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller.
An act of kindness does not have to be extravagant, expensive, or time consuming to make a difference. Something as simple as a smile can turn someone’s day around. If you need help thinking of ideas, there are some easy resources like these Acts of Kindness Cards or this Kindness Calendar that gives you suggestions for every day of the year.
Here are some more ways you can brighten someone else’s day:
- Do a favor for a neighbor – Shovel their driveway, offer to get their mail when out of town.
- Write a letter to a friend or neighbor – It can be a random hello, a picture your kid drew, a thank you telling someone how they have made a difference in your life. One of our neighbors had a Santa mailbox last year – our daughter dropped off a letter to Santa, and Santa wrote back!! This brought so much joy to our house.
- Smile – At a stranger, at someone you know – you never know what someone may be dealing with, and a simple acknowledgment and smile can go such a long way
- Donate money to a charity
- High fives – Boy, do I believe in the power of high fives. My best half marathon was the one where I went out of my way to get the most high fives from spectators! (I will look forward to this one again post-pandemic…)
- Leave notes for coworkers to tell them they are doing great – I used to carry around one of these High Five notepads and loved it.
- Drop off dinner for a friend or neighbor – Family with a new baby, someone you know has a lot on their plate, or just because
- Pay it forward in a drive-thru.
- Link your Amazon account with a charity through Amazon Smile – 0.5% of every purchase you make will go to that charity. Every penny counts!
- Take dishes to the sink for a family member – This has been a good way for my 4-year-old to help out.
- Send a care package to someone you care about – SO many options out there, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Like these Brightboxes – $15 or less and sure to make someone smile
- Send a text to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while – Even a quick “Hi, I miss you!” can go a long way.
- Put the shopping cart back in the right spot at the store.
- Leave flowers on a friend’s doorstep.
- Donate no longer used toys/clothes/household items – Starting to get my 4-year-old involved in pieces of this, and I think that has positively reflected her.
- Leave a kind comment on social media.
- Donate blood
- Listen to a friend who has a lot on their mind.
- Volunteer at a local food pantry
- Leave a generous tip for your barista or food delivery driver.
- Post a cute puppy/kitten/kid video – Never fails to turn a frown upside down. (My all-time fave: kittens inspired by kittens)
- Leave a good review for a business you appreciate.
- Send cards to kids in the hospital.
- Call your grandparents
Don’t forget about random acts of kindness for yourself! I’m a firm believer that if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take the best care of others.
- Blast music – dance, sing at the top of your lungs.
- Commit to learning something new – an instrument, how to knit, lettering, etc.
- Lock yourself in your room with a book or podcast
- Start a gratitude journal.
- Get some exercise
- Take a hot bath
- Go for a walk
Life has been just a little crazy lately. Now, more than ever, these random acts of kindness can go a long way to help bring joy and happiness in a sometimes dark time. Let’s go and work to leave the world a better place than we found it!