Monday, November 12, 2012

Celebrate World Kindness Day This Year

Anne Herbert said to,
"Practice random acts of kindness and
senseless acts of beauty."

That’s right — there is actually such a thing as “World Kindness Day” on November 13. But you don’t need that, right? I’m sure you consciously make the choice to be kind every day. In a perfect world, this would be true for everyone. However, we are flawed, imperfect human beings and sometimes we need an overt reminder to be selfless. Just think for a moment. How many times today already can you remember going out of your way to do something nice for someone else? Holding the door open or letting that car merge in front of you on your morning commute doesn’t cut it; that’s just polite. Let’s imagine that these things, hopefully, are expected in most situations. Have you done anything kind today that took some time or effort, without any chance of recognition? If you have, bravo! You are a shining example. For others, myself shamefully included, “life” and a busy schedule can get in the way of performing random acts of kindness. A whole day set aside to honor kindness is helpful for most of us.

At least one group of people thought this was the case. These people made a “Declaration of Kindness” on November 13, 1997. With this, an international holiday was born, with the intention to bring some light into an increasingly dark world. The idea of kindness has no borders and translates into every culture, making this celebration universally appealing. Everyone can relate to how good it feels to be treated kindly by others. Helping someone else doesn’t feel too shabby, either. In the famous words of Mark Twain, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

So get out there and perform selfless acts of kindness in honor of this day. Not sure what to do? First off, let’s define something. What are acts of kindness, exactly? According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, "When we go beyond duties that are expected of us and reach out to help another person or group of people, we are performing Random Acts of Kindness. Kindness and empathy are very closely related: kindness is the observable expression of empathy. We sense another person's need, we understand how it feels to be in need (due to our own past experience), and we decide to offer our help."

The creative part comes into play with the “sense another person’s need” part of the definition. There are so many fun and fulfilling ways to lend a hand and celebrate World Kindness Day. Start at home, for example. Make breakfast for a partner or family member. Write a letter to someone close to you to express your appreciation and love. Offer to do all the household chores for the day— from the dishes, to the trash, to the laundry. When is the last time you gave the household pet some TLC? Take him for a walk, or spend some extra time playing with her.

photo courtesy of
That takes care of the home front, but what about our communities? There might be non-profits in need of some volunteers, or a neighbor in need. Random Acts of has other suggestions for how to help our communities get stronger and become more vital.

 Here are some extra ideas:

That's the general idea. The goal is to brighten the day of everyone you come in contact with as much as you can. Keep in mind that kindness is inspiring. Even one random act of kindness can start a chain reaction with exponential effects. Little things mean a lot. Recently, I had an armful of groceries at the check out line, much more than I had intended to buy and of course, I didn't get myself a cart! The man in front of me moved his things off the conveyer and let me go first. It's a small thing, but it sure helped save me some time and discomfort. Something that small can really make someone's day. I know it made mine.

Start your own chain today and let us know what random acts of kindness you gave and/or received on World Kindness Day.

Amanda Gilmore
Contributing Writer

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