Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) bring happiness to strangers when they least expect it. The goal of such acts are "To make our world a kinder place one act at a time." The RAK movement was started in 1982, by a woman named Anne Herbert. She wrote the phrase "practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" on a placemat in a restaurant in Sausalito, California. Years later, Anne wrote Random Acts of Kindness, a book about true stories of acts of kindness. As the movement grew, more and more people were inspired by the idea that simple acts of kindness, directed toward strangers, could change the world for the better. RAK is now internationally known and celebrated on different days around the world and continues to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
Random Acts of Kindness not only bring happiness to the people around you, but also to yourself. Finding new ways to connect is a wonderful experience, and being kind to others brings fulfillment to your life overall. In addition, being kind is actually scientifically proven to make you happier and healthier! According to David R. Hamilton PhD, “Acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone, oxytocin, in the brain and throughout the body. Of recent interest is its significant role in the cardiovascular system”.
In the United States, February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Day. However, making the world a kinder place shouldn’t be limited to just one day of the year. Here are ten ways people can perform random acts of kindness every day:
1. Pay for the person behind you on your morning coffee run- the smallest things can put a smile on someone’s face, and free coffee early in the morning could make someone’s day just a little bit brighter.
2. Commend a co-worker on their work- everyone deserves to have their efforts recognized, no matter how big or small!
3. Buy extra groceries and donate them to your local food pantry- every bit counts and you can help people in your community during a grocery trip you’d go on anyway.
4. Send a note (or text) to encourage a friend- you never know how people are feeling, and hearing from you just might make their day!
5. Bring sweets to share at work- surprise snacks are a great way to bring positivity into the office, and what better way to greet those you haven’t had the chance to meet yet than with food. Building community make everyone feel welcome and special and makes for a positive work environment.
6. Let someone ahead of you in line- we all know the feeling of dread when we see that the person ahead of us at the grocery store has a cart brimming with groceries and we just want to buy a loaf of bread. Make someone’s day by letting them go ahead of you- who knows? Someone may return the favor down the road.
7. Compliment someone- it can be as simple as their new hairstyle, or their shoes, but compliments are sure to make someone smile and they help you to see the best in others.
8. Volunteer in your community- whether it’s at a soup kitchen or a local school, you can help your community flourish with just a few hours of your time.
9. Introduce yourself to your neighbor- it’s easy to go about life in a constant rush, but making meaningful connections with the people around you creates a sense of community for everyone!
10. Invite someone to lunch- whether it’s a stranger who seems interesting, or a new co-worker in the office, a simple, friendly gesture can go a long way, and you never know who you’ll meet by just introducing yourself.