Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Be Kind To Humankind Week and other Random Acts

Mark Twain summarised kindness when he said it is "the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see".

August 25th marks the 25th anniversary of Be Kind to Humankind Week (BK2HK), an annual celebration of kindness that is recognized globally from August 25th-31st each and every year. It is basically a week long holiday. Of course you should practice kindness daily, but this is the week you can take it to the next level. The week consists of seven days, each with it’s own unique theme:
  1. Sacrifice our Wants for Others Needs Sunday;
  2. Motorists Consideration Monday;
  3. Touch A Heart Tuesday;
  4. Willing to Lend A Hand Wednesday;
  5. Thoughtful Thursday;
  6. Forgive Your Foe Friday; and lastly
  7. Speak Kind Words Sunday
Be Kind To Humankind is a celebration of people and the kind acts that they perform all across the globe. Its website’s purpose is to share positive news, stories, photos, videos, poems, quotes, thoughts and more.  Be Kind To Humankind was created in August of 1988 by Lorraine Jara in Toms River, New Jersey, but it wasn't the beginning, and I doubt it's the end.
Love Mandala
November 13th is World Kindness Day. The first World Kindness Movement® conference was held at Tokyo in 1998, and the 35th anniversary of the Small Kindness Movement of Japan, which brought the signatories of the ‘declaration of kindness’ of the World Kindness Movement together in 1997.  The current members of the movement are 20 kindness organisations with representatives from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Romania, Scotland, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the USA. Pending applications from Switzerland, Uganda, Liberia and Seychelles are currently under review.
World Kindness Day is the beginning of a global reaction to the exploitation of our human and natural resources. It could be said that the slogan for World Kindness Day might well be "Healing the World!" – and in doing so, there is the possibility of creating something so intrinsically good and wholesome, that the beneficial effects could be virtually endless.
"Practise random kindness and senseless acts of beauty." This is an underground slogan spreading rapidly across the world. It is a movement called Guerrilla Goodness. It appears on walls, as bumper stickers, as a sign-off line in e-mail messages - and has an auto-multiplier effect. The origins of the slogan are not known, but it is believed to have started in San Francisco. Philip Dawes, an activist in England, is among those spreading this slogan through bumper- stickers, cards and other merchandise. Each sticker is accompanied by a note which first appeared as an article on the Internet, "writer unknown", and has since been printed in many newspapers and magazines.
Not to take away from the events themselves or the intent behind them, but one has to wonder why we have to proclaim a specific day to be kind to people? I understand the events and campaigns are intended to raise awareness and remind people to be kind to others. But what does that say about our society? Kindness should be an everyday occurrence. In an ideal world, people shouldn’t have to make a concerted effort to be kind, it should just come naturally. Alas, it is not an ideal world and thus we need reminders. Simple things like holding a door open for someone, letting a mom with kids in tow go ahead of you in the grocery line, shovelling an elderly neighbour’s driveway, stopping to aid someone whose car is broken down – these are all things that cost nothing but perhaps a few minutes of your time.

Perhaps that is where things are going wrong. Time is of the essence for many and because they are perpetually in a hurry, perhaps they just don’t think of these things. But they should.

Depression has received a good deal of attention from the press of late.  I'm told over twenty percent of the population is affected by it at some time during their life. Depression feeds on introspectiveness: dwelling on our problems will drive us deeper into the morass of depression. When you practice kindness you are placing your attention onto someone else. When you do this you have put your depression 'on hold,' and your acts of kindness may allow you to see your own situation from a different perspective. This could result in being able to find new ways to seek relief from the condition.

The person who receives a kind act experiences the 'feel good' response, too. It's a nice experience when someone smiles at you, or thanks you, or compliments you, or helps you in some way. It creates a bonding, and in that moment there is a greater sense of worth about yourself and people in general. It is a feeling akin to falling in love, and it has been scientifically proven that regular, small acts of kindness have a positive effect on your physical and mental well being, but also on your longevity. Kindness is not only a feel good experience, it is also beneficial for your health.

If you can't find the time to squeeze in a wee bit of random kindness this week, you've been given fair warning and plenty of time to prepare.  For half a minute on 13th November, you are asked to contemplate kindness and selfless acts that have had a lasting impact on you.  Nothing huge, or shouting it from the rooftops – it's a gesture as gentle as the notion itself.   Remember what Wordsworth said; "the best bits of a man's life are the simple, random acts of kindness and love".  It really doesn't take much to show someone somewhere an act of kindness - so what will you do on 13 November?  And, just in case you can't find the time to think of an act of kindness, here are some ideas.  Some take a bit of planning, some take a little forethought. . . but the bottom line is simply to ACT.  I have faith in you.  Just Do It!


1. Deliver fresh-baked cookies to city workers.
2. Collect goods for a food bank.
3. Bring flowers to work and share them with coworkers.
4. Garden clubs can make floral arrangements for senior centers, nursing homes, hospitals, police stations, or shut-ins.
5. Adopt a student who needs a friend, checking in periodically to see how things are going.
6. Volunteer to be a tutor in a school.
7. Extend a hand to someone in need. Give your full attention and simply listen.
8. Merchants can donate a percentage of receipts for the week to a special cause.
9. Bring coworkers a special treat.
10. Students can clean classrooms for the custodian.
11. Buy a stranger a free pizza.
12. Distribute lollipops to kids.
13. Sing at a nursing home.
14. Offer a couple of hours of baby-sitting to parents.
15. Slip paper hearts that say “It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week! Have a great day!” under the windshield wipers of parked cars.
16. Have a charity day at work, with employees bringing nonperishable food items to donate.
17. Serve refreshments to customers.
18. Draw names at school or work, and have people bring a small gift or food treat for their secret pal.
19. Remember the bereaved with phone calls, cards, plants, and food.
20. Treat someone to fresh fruit.
21. Pay a compliment at least once a day.
22. Call or visit a homebound person.
23. Hand out balloons to passersby.
24. Give free sodas to motorists.
25. Be a good neighbor. Take over a baked treat or stop by to say “Hello.”
26. Transport someone who can’t drive.
27. Mow a neighbor’s grass.
28. Say something nice to everyone you meet today.
29. Send a treat to a school or day-care center.
30. Volunteer at an agency that needs help.
31. Wipe rainwater off shopping carts or hold umbrellas for shoppers on the way to their cars.
32. Give the gift of your smile.
33. Send home a note telling parents something their child did well.
34. Adopt a homeless pet from the humane society.
35. Organize a scout troop or service club to help people with packages at the mall or grocery.
36. Host special programs or speakers at libraries or bookstores.
37. Offer to answer the phone for the school secretary for ten minutes.
38. Volunteer to read to students in the classroom.
39. Write notes of appreciation and bring flowers or goodies to teachers or other important people, such as the principal, nurse, custodian, and secretary.
40. Incorporate kindness into the curriculum at area schools, day care centers, or children’s classes in faith organizations.
41. Give a hug to a friend.
42. Tell your children why you love them.
43. Write a note to your mother/father and tell them why they are special.
44. Pat someone on the back.
45. Write a thank-you note to a mentor or someone who has influenced your life in a positive way.
46. Give coffee to people on their way to work in the morning.
47. Donate time at a senior center.
48. Give blood.
49. Visit hospitals with smiles, treats, and friendly conversation for patients.
50. Stop by a nursing home, and visit a resident with no family nearby.
51. Plant flowers in your neighbor’s flower box.
52. Give another driver your parking spot.
53. Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.
54. Give free car washes.
55. Clean graffiti from neighborhood walls and buildings.
56. Tell your boss that you think he/she does a good job.
57. Tell your employees how much you appreciate their work.
58. Let your staff leave work an hour early.
59. Have a clean-up party in the park.
60. Tell a bus or taxi driver how much you appreciate their driving.
61. Have everyone in your office draw the name of a Random Acts of Kindness buddy out of a hat and do a kind act for their buddy that day or week.
62. Give a pair of tickets to a baseball game or concert to a stranger.
63. Leave an extra big tip for the waitperson.
64. Drop off a plant, cookies, or donuts to the police or fire department.
65. Open the door for another person.
66. Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through.
67. Write a note to the boss of someone who has helped you, praising the employee.
68. Leave a bouquet of flowers on the desk of a colleague at work with whom you don’t normally get along.
69. Call an estranged family member.
70. Volunteer to fix up an elderly couple’s home.
71. Pay for the person behind you in the movie line.
72. Give flowers to be delivered with meal delivery programs.
73. Give toys to the children at the shelter or safe house.
74. Give friends and family kindness coupons they can redeem for kind favors.
75. Be a friend to a new student or coworker.
76. Renew an old friendship by sending a letter or small gift to someone you haven’t talked with in a long time.
77. For one week, act on every single thought of generosity that arises spontaneously in your heart, and notice what happens as a consequence.
78. Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading a car.
79. Invite someone new over for dinner.
80. Buy a roll of brightly colored stickers and give them to children you meet during the day.
81. Write a card of thanks and leave it with your tip. Be sure to be specific in your thanks.
82. Let the person behind you in the grocery store go ahead of you in line.
83. When drivers try to merge into your lane, let them in with a wave and a smile.
84. Buy cold drinks for the people next to you at a ball game.
85. Distribute kindness bookmarks that you have made.
86. Create a craft project or build a bird house with a child.
87. Give a bag of groceries to a homeless person.
88. Laugh out loud often and share your smile generously.
89. Plant a tree in your neighborhood.
90. Make a list of things to do to bring more kindness into the world, and have a friend make a list. Exchange lists and do one item per day for a month.
91. Use an instant camera to take people’s photographs at a party or community event, and give the picture to them.
92. As you go about your day, pick up trash.
93. Send a letter to some former teachers, letting them know the difference they made in your life.
94. Send a gift anonymously to a friend.
95. Organize a clothing drive for a shelter.
96. Buy books for a day care or school.
97. Slip a $20 bill to a person who you know is having financial difficulty.
98. Take an acquaintance to dinner.
99. Offer to take a friend’s child to ball practice.
100. Waive late fees for the week.

If you cannot see the bright side, polish the dull side.