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.
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.”
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?