hand of one person offering a yellow flower and an orange flower to another person's hand

Random Acts of Kindness Day

Though not a widely publicized day on most calendars, Random Acts of Kindness Day, February 17th, is worth some attention. Random Acts of Kindness Day is a day when everybody gets the chance to do something nice for someone else.

A Little History

There’s a bit of debate over where and when it started. But it is generally believed to have started in Denver, Colorado in 1995. Then it spread to New Zealand in 2004. Since it apparently worked so well, it has since spread as an international holiday. So, now, we globally have a day dedicated to doing nice things for others.

Why Set Aside a Special Day?

Did someone recently cut you off in traffic? Are you tired of mean social media rants? Do too many of the people you encounter lately just seem rude? Does the only news you get seem to all be bad news? Then having one day to both offer and receive random acts of kindness just may give you the stop and reset buttons you need. You can plan out kind acts or just wing them spontaneously.

 

Yellow squishy ball with smiley face surrounded by silver bead necklace

Giving and receiving brightens your day and makes you smile. Photo source: Angela Hinkle

Even the littlest kind thing you do for someone else can make a big difference in their day and yours. There’s the story I heard recently of a driver who brought a hamburger to a man living under a bridge at the beach. The homeless man said it was a perfect “surf and turf” lunch. The driver said that was one of the best days he ever had.

What Does the Research Say?

The effects of doing kind things for others is hard to scientifically pinpoint. However, multiple small case studies have shown that those practicing altruism live longer, healthier lives.* Kind deeds have been shown to reduce our stress levels and the negative physiological effects of stress on our bodies. “Happy” hormone levels increase as we care for others. There also is often a giddiness (not a scientific term) we feel when we do that nice unexpected thing for someone.

How to Celebrate

Doing nice for others can produce a ripple effect. You do something nice for someone. Then they do something nice for someone else. And so on, and so on, and so on. Your act of kindness does matter. Here are a few acts of kindness you may want to try:

  • Pay for the person behind you at the drive thru.
  • Give someone a compliment.
  • Donate used business clothes to people who are going on job interviews.
  • Let someone have that prime spot in the busy parking lot.
  • Share your lunch.
  • Clean up someone else’s mess.
  • Leave a really big tip for your wait staff person.
  • Donate blood.

Try a random act of kindness this February 17th. I think it will be worth it. And who knows, you may get so good at it, you start providing those random acts of kindness every day.

*Resource:  The Science of Good Deeds:  The ‘helper high’ could help you live a longer, healthier life.  WebMD https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/science-good-deeds#1