Random acts of kindness for strangers have been popular for years now. When we do something kind, the likely result is that we feel good and satisfied. We get to perceive ourselves as being a kind and caring person, and that’s a very pleasant feeling.
When we are the recipient of kindness, we also tend to feel good, satisfied, and to perceive that kindness as an indication that we are cared for.
Kind acts result in all-around pleasantness. When the act is random and completely unexpected, the positive effect seems even greater. That stranger who buys your coffee doesn’t owe you anything; they are presumably doing it simply because they want to help you have a great day.
Doing a random positive act for a stranger is a pretty easy way to get a warm fuzzy feeling. There’s no commitment; it’s not as if you are entering into some kind of relationship. The next person in the drive-through may never even see who you are when you buy their coffee. Yet you’re happy, they are probably happy, and you can experience the virtuous feeling of having contributed to making the world a kinder, nicer place.
Now, let’s up the ante a little bit.
How about taking that same spirit and try applying it to the people you are closest to? You know who I mean: your spouse, your parents, your children, your co-workers, possibly even your boss, your neighbours, and your friends.
What difference might it make in your life if you start doing unexpected acts of kindness for those folks? Would it make a difference in their lives, too?
If your response is, “I do kind things for them all the time,” then that’s wonderful! Keep it up. You likely have happy, satisfying relationships. Kindness does seem to beget kindness, so you may well find that you are the recipient of kindness as well as the giver.
On the other hand, your response to that suggestion might be, “Why should I? They don’t do anything kind for me.” If so, then this might be a good time to look at how you want your relationships to be.
If you perceive that kindness in your closest relationships should be a tit-for-tat exchange—“If I do something nice for you, then you’ll owe me,” you may have discovered a great opportunity to improve those relationships.
Try experimenting. Demonstrate the same courtesy that you would to a stranger by opening the door for your mom. Pop in with an unexpected coffee for your spouse. Hand write an encouraging note to your child. Pick flowers for a friend.
Performing random acts of kindness for people you know contributes just as much to making the world a better, happier place as does random acts for strangers.
There’s another advantage to being kind on the home front: you set an example. Your spouse, friends, and most importantly, your children get to see kindness in action on a regular basis.
While they may not say anything, or you may get eye-rolls and less-than-courteous comments, don’t be discouraged. Remember that what you do has much more influence than what you say. You may never fully know the impact you have by practicing kindness in your own home or workplace. But you don’t know the impact when you randomly buy coffee for a stranger either, right?
What do you think about random acts of kindness, whether it’s for strangers or non-strangers?