How random acts of kindness light up everyone’s life
Random acts of kindness may seem an eccentric and inefficient way of making the world a better place. Yet research shows that as well as cheering up the recipients, the givers benefit even more.
The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer someone else up. – Mark Twain
What are “random acts of kindness?”
Random acts of kindness are things that people do with no expectation of reward, often without really thinking about it, and often unasked. Stop for a minute and think about the unexpected kindnesses you have received. The bus driver who waited while you ran for the bus, the person who smiled at you, the cashier who noticed your sugar packet was leaking or the driver that waited patiently when you crossed.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou, USA
Random acts of kindness are usually small acts which someone did quickly and moved on. The more you look for them, the more you will be able to spot them. What you focus your attention on is what you see. Looking for negatives will make you depressed. Look for the good in people, and kindness starts to flow.
“Spot the Unsung Hero” Exercise
- Watch for instances of people spontaneously helping others. Listen out for kind or encouraging words.
- Say thank you or make a favourable comment if appropriate. If not, just mentally note it.
- Look at people you take for granted–think how much easier your life is because of the way they do their job. What would it be like if they were grumpy?
- Make a note of this. It should restore your faith in humanity. If it doesn’t, maybe you need to be an unsung hero and “pay it forward”
This clip shows some easy ways to pay it forward.
But, what about horrible people?
How often do we excuse our unkindness by blaming others for being mean to us?
It’s easy to be kind when others treat you well. The challenge is to preserve your loving-kindness when they treat you badly—to preserve goodwill in the face of ill will. Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
What we don’t know is what lies behind their behaviour. It can be helpful to imagine what might have caused a sane, reasonable person to behave the way they did.
Maybe they have sorrows and struggles. Think of them as especially vulnerable–their actions will put them at risk of more unkindness.
They were once children who needed kindness and perhaps never received it.
Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. – Philo of Alexandria
Who will be kind to me?
Sometimes, we may feel that we are always looking after others and being kind and get nothing back. That is a sign of burnout or “empty jug syndrome”. So, you need to start thinking about self-compassion. Andy Hunt’s great post on “Would You Label a Baby?” provides some tips for those of us who struggle to ask for or accept compassion. Maybe you need to do some random acts of kindness to yourself. Or maybe your pain is blinding you to the good around you.
Self-love is the foundation for your capacity to love the other person. If you don’t take good care of yourself, if you are not happy, if you are not peaceful, you cannot make the other person happy. – Thich Nhat Hanh
Why not try a few acts of random kindness? You don’t need to do anything big, just look at people and think what would make them smile? One of the easiest and most effective random acts of kindness is to listen to someone.
There are some great ideas for random acts of kindness here https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas. As we know from our own experience, being kind makes us and others feel good. It encourages others to be kind and makes life better for everyone.
If you are struggling and burnt out, try being kind to yourself. If relationships are in a tangle and you need someone to listen, that’s what I do. I provide a safe space to share your thoughts and feelings. I give you tools to restore yourself and find the best way forward. The first discussion will cost you nothing and it may be all you need. Ring 07980 920 078