RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS - March 3-9 is “Random Acts of Kindness Week” Surprised to find out there is a week dedicated to kindness? I have to admit I was, simply because it seemed so unnecessary. After all, don’t most of us try to live our lives being kind to one another? The sad fact is that this is not true for everyone. You only need to read a newspaper or watch the news to realize that there are many who do not live their lives with kindness in mind.
Have we forgotten how to be kind?
Recently, Meebal printed an article ‘social networks: are we becoming less sociable?‘ in which the writer took a close look at the isolation today’s media is creating. As a society we are choosing to interact with the outside world through texts and social outlets like Facebook and Twitter. Personal contact is at a premium and I believe we have forgotten not only many of our social graces, but some of us have learned to be bullies because of the anonymity the internet provides. When this behavior continues to go unchallenged and unchanged, the nature of the individual becomes more brazen and less accepting of normal standards for conduct.
Relate this to children and studies have shown that since the widespread use of computers in schools and the home children have scored 40% lower on empathy tests from 2000 to 2009. An additional study has revealed a direct correlation between disinterest and a lack of emotional displays in children influenced by time spent interacting on social media. As humans we are sensory beings and absorb within seconds subtle facial movements and voice inflections when speaking to someone face to face. This lack of personal contact has proven that without this stimulation we respond with less emotion, if at all.
There is hope: Kindness is a skill that can be taught
In one year, three schools of the same district began a “Kindness Education Program” for grades K-4, as part of a research study program. Through the use of movies, books, role-playing and discussions the children were taught appropriate responses, social skills and respect for others. It wasn’t long before the children were modeling kindness in the classroom and sharing how they used the skills they learned at home. At the end of the year, when it was time for final thoughts to be spoken and data to be analyzed it was no surprise to anyone that the program provided an increase in self-esteem, an awareness and respect for others, plus the motivation to intervene or improve most situations.
What was surprising is the fact that social standards were improved between all the children, and that there was an increase in academic performance. With the end result having such a positive impact, it was decided to continue the program. That was five years ago and since that time the program has been implemented in grades 5-8 with continued success and is now implemented in many school systems across the country.
What about you?
I have been on the giving and receiving end of numerous acts of kindness and I am grateful for each one because they changed me. Read the following note and see if it doesn’t make you feel good for both the giver and the receiver.
An act of kindness does not need to be this grand of a gesture to make a difference in someone’s day. It is often the little things that mean the most. Having someone hold a door open, reach a box of cereal off a high shelf in the grocery store, or wipe the snow off your car in the parking lot. These are a few of my own experiences and I am touched by each and every one. The person didn’t know me, I did nothing to deserve their kindness, and they asked for nothing in return. It was a gift.
Will you observe “Random Acts of Kindness Week?”
I challenge you to try doing one act of kindness for someone, even yourself; one little act, every day. Be warned, it can be contagious and may become a way of life. Symptoms include feelings of happiness, excitement and brainstorming for new ideas.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Share your smile
Clean up the dishes from dinner
Let your brother play your video game
Leave your change in the vending machine/
Allow someone to go ahead of you in traffic or in the grocery line
Slip a note into your child’s lunchbox or your partner’s wallet
Offer your seat
Take some bakery to your local police or fire station
”Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” Lao Tzu