February 16, 2023
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” - Princess Diana
February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day, which was created in 1995 by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK), a non-profit organization based in Denver, Colorado.
RAK uses this day to promote their motto “Make Kindness the Norm”, as an antithesis to our world’s focus on violent and aggressive politics, news coverage and human interaction. Random Acts of Kindness Day celebrates the significance of small acts of kindness to increase positive outcomes and uplift our communities and our world.
According to a 2016 Stanford psychology study, people who witness random acts of kindness in their everyday lives experience improved mood and are significantly more likely to “pay it forward”. A 2018 NIH study found that performing acts of kindness for friends, strangers and oneself boosts happiness and well-being. Performing acts of kindness increases the production of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, all of which contribute to feelings of satisfaction, joy, trust, and connection. According to the journal Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, people who practice a kindness mindset have 23% lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than the average person.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has created resources and curricula for classrooms, workplaces, and households to promote kindness revolutions at all levels of the community. Each resource focuses on positive behavior modeling, creating safe and supportive environments, self-care, inclusivity, and communication in order to encourage growth and connection between all humans. RAK’s school curricula have been translated into ten different languages and implemented in over 35,000 schools and school districts across the globe.
It’s easy to participate in Random Acts of Kindness Day. Try complimenting a stranger on your commute; a simple “I love your shoes” could make their day. Treat the unhoused person outside your grocery store to lunch. Anonymously donate money to a charity or drop off those clothes that don’t fit at charitable thrift store. Generously tip your server or barista. Share a favorite book, song, or movie with a friend. Volunteer at a local community organization or event. Start a dialog with your kids about caring, inclusivity, and responsibility so they can learn to embody kindness to their peers and teachers. We all have many admirable qualities: intelligence and wit, physical attractiveness. Often the quality people most remember and which draws them back to us is our grace and kindness.
And the kindness doesn’t have to end on February 18. Carry this kindness mindset with you all year. Remember that one small act of kindness can snowball into something larger that makes everyone’s days just a little bit brighter.