Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day! Established by US organisation The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation in 1995, the day is an opportunity to be mindful of our behaviour towards others, and really make a concerted effort to do a small act that will make a positive difference to someone else’s life.
For any cynics out there thinking this sounds like a hippie love-in, kindness has been scientifically proven to benefit not only the recipient, but the kind person. In 2016 and 2017, the University of Oxford carried out experiments to test this idea. The results showed that being kind had a positive effect on the kind person’s happiness, life satisfaction and social connection, among other things. One reason is that seeing kind acts produces oxytocin, the “love hormone”, and serotonin, another feel-good hormone.
With all this in mind, we’ve put together a list of simple things you can do to improve the lives of those around you, and your own - whether on this day or every day.
For your parents
- Send a text for no other reason than to thank them for something, whether small – remembering to wash your football kit – or big – being supportive every day.
- Cook dinner – and do the washing up – so your folks have one less thing to do at the end of a long working day. Bonus karma points if you make their favourite dishes.
- Make your bed and tidy your room without being asked.
For your siblings
- Pick up a tub of your brother’s favourite crisps or sister’s favourite sweets, for no particular reason.
- Plan a movie night featuring your sibling’s fave films, PJs and popcorn.
- Stick a Post-it note to your sibling’s mirror praising something you love about them.
For your friends
- We often forget to check in with each other because we’re all so busy.,But a simple, “hey, how are you, by the way?” can mean a lot.
- Next time you’re at a 7-Eleven for a drink or snack, pick up an extra one for your BFF. It’s a simple gesture that says, “I was thinking of you.”
- Seen a meme your friend would love? Instead of just tagging them in the comments, go the extra mile and print it out to make it into a funny card, and add your own message. Cards don’t have to be for an occasion, it can be for “just because”, especially if it brings a smile to someone’s face.
For your teacher
- Tell your teacher, in person, something you appreciate about them, even if it’s just, “thank you for taking the time to explain XXX to me, it really helped me understand it.”
- Get a bunch of classmates together to write affirmation cards for your teacher – a little piece of paper with a note on what you like, appreciate, or admire about them. It’ll be something uplifting for your teacher to read and re-read on their bad days.
- See a teacher carrying a lot of stuff? Offer to lend a hand! Often a physical burden can quickly feel like a mental one, and it means so much to know someone noticed and is happy to help.
For a random stranger
- It’s so easy to forget to thank people in the service industry. They may be a total stranger to you and they’re just doing their job, but a word of appreciation for your bus driver, supermarket cashier, or waiter doesn’t hurt anybody.
- Next time you’re in the lift with someone, smile at them and say hello, and offer a kind comment like, “I like your jacket, it’s great for this kind of weather.”
- With strangers, acts of common courtesy are as good as ones of kindness. So hold the door for someone, offer your seat on the bus or MTR, move aside to let people get off the train, and say “excuse me” if you need to move past someone. It makes a huge difference!
- It may not seem like our small-scale decisions affect the rest of the world, but they can. An easy one: be kind to our planet, and cut down on single-use plastic.
- Did you have a particularly good lai see haul this year? Why not share the love with a less fortunate child – you can provide 256 children with pencils and exercise books for HK$1,000 through Unicef.
- Spend 10 minutes a day not scrolling through IG, but visiting sites like freerice.com, thehungersite.com or caretoclick.com to make the world better with minimal effort – a click.
- Next time you catch yourself feeling bummed because you “messed up” something, take a moment to be kind and say to yourself, “What can I take from this?” Don’t be so hard on yourself; mistakes are just life lessons that everyone makes. Learn from them.
- Self-care is good for you, and everyone around you. Don’t be ashamed of taking the time to do something that makes you happy, whether it’s binge-watching your favourite show for two hours, doing a face mask, or reading your favourite childhood book. If you take care of yourself, and your mental health, you’ll be happier and healthier, and able to be more considerate of others, too.
- Download an app, or join a service such as kindness.org which provides ideas for random acts of kindness, and a way to log and share how you’ve positively impacted life.