“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Tuesday was World Kindness Day, a day to try a little harder to be a little kinder to those around us. Begun twenty years ago, the mission of the World Kindness Movement is simple: create a kinder world by inspiring individuals and nations towards greater kindness.
Besides being the right thing to do, kindness is good for our brains. Practicing kindness, like practicing gratitude, releases serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin, hormones that make us feel happy.
Stories about people being kind are everywhere, although they are often drowned out by the more depressing news of the day/week/month and year. In the last week, there have been multiple stories about the kindness of Mayor Brent Taylor killed in Afghanistan - and kindnesses extended to his family in their time of grief.
Volunteers carried “Big Betsy,” a giant flag weighing 400 pounds, almost two miles up Ogden Canyon in honor of Taylor. A World War II chaplain collected stained glass shards from European churches that had been bombed and has turned them into 25 pieces of work. Most stories of kindnesses shared, though, go unseen and unheralded and that’s OK.
Here are some ideas to make World Kindness Day an everyday occurrence:
* Write a note to someone who has brightened your life or has impacted you in some way.
* Pay for the car behind you at the drive-through
* Keep winter care kits in your car and donate them to people who are not protected from the elements.
* Clean up a mess you didn’t make.
* Send a thank-you basket of treats to your child’s school
* Take treats to your local law enforcement officers
* Compliment someone
* Make and fill an outdoor bird feeder for our feathered friends
* Rake your neighbors leaves
* Thank someone for making a difference
* Leave an uplifting note for a stranger
* Send a “finals” care package to your favorite college student next month
* Introduce yourself to someone new
* Sit by someone new at lunch
* Refrain from all online negativity for a day/week/month
* Take a meal to a busy neighbor
* Gather books to donate to your local library
* Clean up trash at your favorite local park
* Volunteer to take the older siblings of a new baby for a few hours so mom can get a much-needed nap.
* Email or write a letter to a former teacher who made a difference in your life
* Go to the funeral
* Compliment someone to their boss, or a child to their parent
* Leave a big tip
* Let someone merge in front of you on the highway
* Let the other guy have the best parking space. After all, walking is good for you.
* Talk to the person in the wheelchair instead of talking over their heads
* Anonymously pay for dessert for another table
* Make two lunches and give one away
* Give the benefit of the doubt
* Call your mom
* Call your grandma
* Write letters to members of the military
* Hold a door open for someone
* Pay a stranger’s library fees
* Pay off Christmas lay-away items
* Take a picture of young missionaries and send it to their moms
* Keep extra pens with you, so you always have one to share
* Hide money in books in the library for patrons to find
* Donate your no-longer-needed professional clothes to an organization helping people get on their feet
* Help high school students learn to write a resume
* Forgive someone, even if they don’t “deserve it”
* Get a dozen balloons and give them away, one at a time.
* Donate to your local food pantry
* Help change a tire
* Take in new books, coloring books and crayons to your local pediatrician’s office
* Listen, really listen to another’s story.
* Put your phone away.
* Mend broken relationships that need mending.
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Let’s make the world a little kinder.
Holly Richardson, a regular contributor to The Salt Lake Tribune, is the grateful recipient of random and not-so-random acts of kindness.