Random Acts of Kindness Day Deserves More Attention
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On Feb. 17, the world celebrated random acts of kindness with a day set to bring awareness to the importance of doing kind things for others.
Created 22 years ago in Colorado, this holiday is unknown to many. This needs to change.
There’s no true definition of what a random act of kindness is. It can be anything that makes others feel good about themselves, supported, or just brings a moment of happiness to someone else’s day. Even the smallest gestures can have an impact, like bringing your neighbor’s newspapers to their door, or, as in my case, offering free coffee and donuts as a random surprise to total strangers.
On Friday afternoon, I spent some time in Dunkin Donuts in Cabin John Shopping Center. I had no interest in a donut for myself, I was there solely to surprise others by paying for their orders. In exchange, I only asked that they “pay it forward”, and in turn, offer their own random act of kindness to others. What I learned that afternoon was how meaningful these random acts of kindness can be.
This holiday needs more recognition. I had to explain to everyone I approached what the concept of this day was. Almost everyday, there are announcements on Facebook for silly days of celebration, like National Daughters Day, or National Avocado Day. But National Random Acts of Kindness Day is so much more meaningful and is beneficial, not only to the recipient, but also to the person who is providing a good deed.
After surprising 4 different groups of people, it was interesting to note that each one had a completely different reaction. At first, they were all equally confused and needed further explanation of the holiday until they agreed to let me treat them. I was most moved by the father who came in with two young children. Initially, he felt that someone else more deserving should be given this gift. But I think that he then came to realize that this was a valuable lesson for his children to see. I was touched when his young daughter whispered in his ear that now they should buy me a donut too. Of course I told her that she shouldn’t do it for me, but to do something kind to make someone else happy.
Another interesting and meaningful exchange was with my first subject. He really understood the concept, which brought a huge smile to his face, as we discussed what I was doing. After a warm handshake with his coffee in hand, he joked that he would pay it forward by “buying drinks for his friends at the bar.” It was Friday after all.
What I wanted to stress most of all to the people that I surprised was not that I was simply doing something nice for them, but more importantly that they in turn needed to continue this movement by simply doing something nice for someone else. It need not require money or heavy acts of labor, even complimenting a stranger can brighten someone’s day.
This is one thing that people don’t understand. Many argue that performing a random act of kindness takes too much effort and time. They think that it is an act that people need to go out of their way to perform, and for some, they see the reward.
It is a common misconception that a random act of kindness needs to be some grand gesture or sacrifice. Making others feel good about themselves can be achieved even with a simple smile, or by offering a few kind words to someone who could use them. Many people are so self-absorbed, focusing on themselves and their busy schedules, that they don’t realize that the benefits of this holiday can make our community, and our world, a healthier environment.
And speaking of the world, have you watched the news lately? The emotional climate is in an upheaval. We are a nation divided and everyone is unhappy with the state of it. To many, the current landscape of the US is quite scary! So isn’t this the perfect time to do what we can on a day-to-day basis, whenever we can? I dare any naysayers to find one good reason why the message of Random Acts of Kindness day isn’t the most meaningful and valuable day to commemorate. Because I guarantee you, having taking part in it, the value of kindness is priceless.