Can we just have acts of kindness, not necessarily random?

I see kindness as the most important of all the things we can teach our kids. How we respect others, how we treat one another and how we think about ourselves – we talk about how to be kind with our kids, we teach them by modelling kindness, and we praise them if we see them being kind.

So I have mixed feelings when it comes to the whole ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ thing that’s going on. I’m bothered by it, on one hand, because the term random implies something odd or unusual. It makes me a little sad that an act of kindness should be unusual. And that we needed a call to action to be kind.

On the other hand, it’s cool – if it does remind people to be kind and it has some flow-on effect that spreads more kindness in the world, then great; bring on the RAOK phenomenon.

Today’s prompt in Clairey Hewitt‘s I’m Blogging Every Day in May! is ‘A random act of kindness you have received or given.’

When I read this prompt, I nearly had to drive into town, go to the bakery and pay for the coffee that the person behind me was buying so that I could come home and write about it. But that didn’t appeal. When we were taught about being kind, we also learnt to be humble, and I couldn’t have come home and sat at the computer to write about something good I did for someone. I’m sure I’d have felt very kind and satisfied when they thanked me profusely. But it would have been for the wrong reasons.

coffee_thumbnailSource

One of the most common random acts of kindness is paying for someone else’s coffee. That bothers me a bit. It shouldn’t matter if I get to see their reaction or not. And it should never matter if the favour is not returned to me (though I do get that it’s cool to if they’re inspired to complete a random act of kindness then to someone else). It’s that I got to add meaning to my own life.

“The true essence of humankind is kindness. There are other qualities which come from education or knowledge, but it is essential, if one wishes to be a genuine human being and impart satisfying meaning to one’s existence, to have a good heart.”

—Tenzin Gyatso
The 14th Dalai Lama (B. 1935)

So go on, deliberately try to brighten someone’s day by doing something nice, thoughtful and caring for them. But can we not make it random? Even in our fast-paced, sometimes hostile, selfish world can’t we just be kind:

  • “Warm, resilient, patient, trusting, loyal, and grateful.”
  • At school drop-off, instead of rushing off so that that you can get some stuff done, really listen and connect with others.
  • Show kindness to everyone, not just who that we think deserve it. No judging.
  • Be kinder to ourselves with less negative talk, beating yourself up or comparing yourself to others.
  • Forgive someone – think kind thoughts about someone and let go of the past.

What do you think about random acts of kindness? Have you been a recipient?

5 thoughts on “Can we just have acts of kindness, not necessarily random?

  1. IN America there is the more common concept of buying coffee for people that you don’t know. The idea that when you buy your own, your pay for another and then another person can come in and ask if there is any spare/free coffee going at the moment. But still – how does one feel to have to go and hang out waiting for the free coffee, and asking it for it. The giving part makes the giver feel good, but does the receiver?

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  2. I like your take on this, I think just offering a smile, a hand, kind words or even letting someone in a hurry go ahead of you is a nice act! Haven’t been a recipient in awhile but I do quite a few nice things to make sure the universe stays happy with me and I feel good about myself!

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  3. As in the movie “Pay it Forward” I think the flow on effect from acts of unconditional kindness can be remarkable. But as you said, it is the giving without the expectation of even a returned “thank you” that makes it a true act of kindness. Same can be said with volunteering for something – it should not be for praise or public gratitude. Finally, as America’s most popular female comedian, Ellen, finishes each of her shows quoting “be kind to one another”, we should act on her advice daily and be amazed where it leads us.
    Christine

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  4. I think we are all recipients of acts of kindness every day. It’s the hubby that makes you coffee before you open your eyes, the special drawing your son sat down to draw for you, the person who stops to let you enter traffic. I hope my children grow up to be both kind and grateful. I like the balance between gratefulness and kindness – they lead to a good life.

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