by Gerry S
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Gandhi
If you are reading this, you are probably already trying to make the world a safer, cleaner, kinder or more just place, one way or another. While this site is filled with ideas and stories on different ways to give of our time, talent and treasure, here’s one more, focused on giving without expectation of return to the self – as a practice to be the change you wish to see.
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” —The 14th Dalai Lama
What is KINDNESS? Kindness involves holding others in enough esteem to overcome our judgments, our personal feelings and our inhibitions to actually SEE the other person or animal, etc., to want the best for them, to want them to be happy and act accordingly. It is not the same as compassion or altruism – which both imply someone is suffering – no reason is necessary to just “be kind.” And, I might add, to “think kind.” Synonyms in my thesaurus include gentleness, thoughtfulness, friendliness, consideration, helpfulness, kindheartedness, HUMANITY.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain
Humanity? When you think about it, at some level we all understand that as human beings we have the ability to act in a different way than how we are feeling at the moment – we can be kind and thoughtful towards others even when we are feeling down or ill or frustrated – and we know from experience that doing so actually makes us physically feel better. Did you know being kind to others relieves stress and even strengthens your immune system?
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” —Desmond Tutu
As I was looking through the website for Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (sponsors of World Kindness Day) this article, I came across an article about the warm, elevated feelings of peace and happiness we experience when we even just WITNESS acts of altruism (selflessness). In the story a Pakistani man had purchased 32 caged birds – just to set them free. Witnessing this completely altruistic act created a lasting change in the consciousness and behavior of the witness, and research confirmed this is a common reaction.
So it could be that there are several levels beneficiaries when you are kind. You yourself, of course, the direct beneficiary, anyone who happens to witness the kindness, and the people who receive kindness from the witness
Yes, it can snowball – in fact, that’s part of the point of celebrating the day, isn’t it? Our one act of kindness can reverberate across the miles; just think what our many acts of kindness could do?
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How can I help spread kindness in the world? Where do I sign up to participate?
On this page there is an application form to fill out to be a RAKTIVIST (random acts of kindness activist) The website also has resources including kindness ideas and quotes, lesson plans and help for educators, project ideas, great stories, links to research, and much more…check out the pull down menus from this page.
I’m a loner or I just want to do a personal experiment
You don’t have to sign up anywhere to participate, simply make a decision to set any date of your choosing aside as a day you will
- Take a minute or two to think about all the kindnesses that have been done to you over your lifetime – maybe even make a list…
- Decide to put others first on that day in as many acts of kindness as possible. They don’t have to be anything big – friendly smiles with eye contact, a helpful hand, NOT saying something hurtful – maybe even make a list…
Then, perhaps the day after, you may decide to carry your experiment a little further so you can BE the change you’d like to see in the world on other days as well.
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