Random Acts of Kindness Challenge
by Heather Quackenboss, Human Development and Relationships Educator, Extension La Crosse County
February 17th marks National Random Acts of Kindness Day and the beginning of Random Acts of Kindness Week. Researchers have found that our own wellbeing and happiness increase when we perform random acts of kindness for others. We all perform acts of kindness at one time or another – holding the door open for someone, letting someone merge in traffic, calling an old friend and saying hi, bringing a treat to work. These acts may be large or small, and their beneficiaries may not even be aware of them. Yet their effects can be profound—not only on the recipient but on the giver as well.
Researchers believe this practice makes you feel happier because it makes you think better of yourself and become more aware of positive social interactions. It may also increase your kind, helpful—or “pro-social”—attitudes and tendencies toward others. Evidence suggests that variety is key: People who perform the same acts over and over show a downward trajectory in happiness as the acts of kindness become routine and do not feel special.
This exercise asks you to perform five acts of kindness in one day as a way of both promoting kindness in the world and cultivating happiness in yourself and others.
One day during the week of Random Acts of Kindness (February 17th-22), perform five acts of kindness—all five in one day. It doesn’t matter if the acts are big or small, but it is more effective if you perform a variety of acts.
The acts do not need to be for the same person—the person doesn’t even have to be aware of them. Examples include feeding a stranger’s parking meter, donating blood, helping a friend with a chore, or providing a meal to a person in need. After each act, write down what you did in at least one or two sentences; for more of a happiness boost, also write down how it made you feel.
50 Fun Kindness Ideas to Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day:
- Pay it Backward: buy coffee for the person behind you in line.
- Compliment the first three people you talk to today.
- Send a positive text message to five different people right now.
- Post inspirational sticky notes around your neighborhood, office, school, etc.
- Tell someone they dropped a dollar (even though they didn’t). Then give them a dollar.
- Donate old towels or blankets to an animal shelter.
- Say hi to the person next to you on the elevator.
- Surprise a neighbor with freshly baked cookies or treats!
- Let someone go in front of you in line who only has a few items.
- Leave a gas gift card at a gas pump.
- Throw a party to celebrate someone just for being who they are, which is awesome.
- Have a LinkedIn account? Write a recommendation for coworker or connection.
- Leave quarters at the laundromat.
- Encounter someone in customer service who is especially kind? Take an extra five minutes to tell their manager.
- Leave unused coupons next to corresponding products in the grocery store.
- Leave a note on someone’s car telling them how awesome they parked.
- Try to make sure every person in a group conversation feels included.
- Write a kind message on your mirror with a dry erase marker for yourself, your significant other or a family member.
- Place a positive body image notes in jean pockets at a department store.
- Smile at five strangers.
- Set an alarm on your phone to go off at three different times during the day. In those moments, do something kind for someone else.
- Send a gratitude email to a coworker who deserves more recognition.
- Practice self-kindness and spend 30 minutes doing something you love today.
- Give away stuff for free on Craig’s List.
- Write a gratitude list in the morning and again in the evening.
- Know parents who could use a night out? Offer to babysit for free.
- Hold up positive signs for traffic or in a park for people exercising outside!
- Return shopping carts for people at the grocery store.
- Buy a plant. Put it in a terracotta pot. Write positive words that describe a friend on the pot. Give it to that friend!
- Write a positive comment on your favorite blog, website, or a friend’s social media account.
- Have a clean up party at a beach or park.
- While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
- Leave a kind server the biggest tip you can afford.
- When you’re throwing something away on the street, pick up any litter around you and put that in the trash too.
- Pay the toll for the person behind you.
- Put 50 paper hearts in a box. On each cutout write something that is special about your partner or a friend. Give them the box and tell them to pull out a heart anytime they need a pick-me-up.
- Everyone is important. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name. Also say “hello” to strangers and smile. These acts of kindness are so easy, and they almost always make people smile.
- Write your partner a list of things you love about them.
- Purchase extra dog or cat food and bring it to an animal shelter.
- Find opportunities to give compliments. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it.
- Take flowers or treats to the nurses’ station at your nearest hospital.
- Keep an extra umbrella at work, so you can lend it out when it rains.
- Send a ‘Thank you’ card or note to the officers at your local police or fire station.
- Take muffins or cookies to your local librarians.
- Run an errand for a family member who is busy.
- Leave a box of goodies in your mailbox for your mail carrier.
- Tape coins around a playground for kids to find.
- Put your phone away while in the company of others.
- Email or write to a former teacher who made a difference in your life.
- When you hear that discouraging voice in your head, tell yourself something positive — you deserve kindness too!
Have fun with your Random Acts of Kindness and note how you feel. Often, your wellbeing and happiness will improve too!
Works cited and for more information:
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K., & Schkade, D. (2005) Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111-131.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/