I’m lucky to come across some wonderful people in my work on kindness. Recently, one of these kindness practitioners, Jennifer Wilhoit, reached out to me with a post she had written on how to offer spontaneous kindness to the people around us. She kindly agreed to let me repost it here.
RAOK: Random Acts of Kindness … Or, A Mini Primer on Kindness
Kindness matters. It matters a lot. Being kind is not optional, frivolous, extraneous, or insubstantial.
A random act of kindness is: “a non-premeditated, inconsistent” action designed to offer kindness to the world.
Kindness has emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual benefits for the giver as well as the receiver.
I would add…
A RAOK shies away from recognition.
A RAOK is not imbued with an expectation of a particular outcome.
A RAOK is not always received when it is offered. It is in the offering of something, whether received or not, that kindness is added to the world.
A RAOK can alleviate stress, anxiety for a good long healthy moment.
A RAOK stretches a minute into an eternity, but does not demand any future engagement.
A RAOK does not concern itself – at all – with the many ways in which we separate ourselves from others (i.e. judgments, race, class, party, nationality, status, religion, gender…) for it is inherently unbiased and connective.
A RAOK joins hearts; thus, divisiveness is impossible.
A RAOK might never be remembered beyond the moment in which it is received, but this does not diminish its impact.
A RAOK is sometimes never, ever noticed or known by anyone other than the kindness-doer; it is still a kindness to and for the world.
A RAOK has a ripple effect.
A RAOK is soft and friendly.
A RAOK has limitless manifestations.
A RAOK focuses a person outward – on others – giving their inner life a chance to heal, replenish, clarify, bloom anew.
A few possible verbal responses to a RAOK:
What are you celebrating?
Why are you doing this?
You’ve made my day!
Do I know you?
For me? Really?!
Or, the unfolding of a story about why this person needed this particular kindness on this particular day.
Or, the deeper unfolding of a much larger life story…
A few possible physical reactions to a RAOK:
A deep sigh.
The reaching for a hand.
A stunned expression.
November 13th is World Kindness Day: a global 24-hour celebration dedicated to paying-it-forward and focusing on the good.
February 17th is National Random Acts of Kindness Day.
I can personally attest to the power of RAOK! Just ask me…
Editor’s Note: You can find the full blog here. I’d especially like to note two other recent posts: