Kinds of Kind
As an average human I consider myself to be fairly thoughtful and kind. As an average human I also know I have the neurotic tendency to look in and get a little stuck on me and my issues. I flitter between all the generalised habits of the average human and remain rather normal in an extremely comfortable way.
I see this picture all over the internet, from happiness ambassadors to lifestyle bloggers the message is clear. If we are going to be a little bit more extraordinary, we need to step out…
So what would happen if we purposefully turned up our kind-ometer; if we consciously thought about carrying out kind or good deeds? Would anything change? Would it feel hard or easy? Well there was only ever one way to find out, it’s social experiment time!!
Over the course of a week try to complete 3 random acts of kindness; this could be anything from giving genuine compliments to buying someone a coffee. There are tons of lists on the internet if you’re struggling with ideas or what classes as a kind act! Here’s a post of 101 ideas to get you going.
I enlisted the help of 2 willing volunteers, so in total there were 3 of us aiming for 3 kind acts a day for a week. If we succeeded that would mean putting out a massive 63 additional kind acts into the universe!
Starting out we all felt that 3 kind acts every day would be something to aim for, we’d find it a difficult target on days when we were busy or working from home. However it also felt like we probably did an act a day without really considering it, so hopefully this goal would be reachable.
At the end I asked us all a series of questions about our experience…
- How many RAoK did you carry out in the week (we were aiming for 3 a day so a total of 21) estimates are fine?
C: I managed 19, 2 off the target!
L: I did about 15 so averaging 2 a day
E: Probably about 2 a day average. Some days more, some less.
- Can you give a few examples of the acts you carried out?
C: Gave a thank you card to my favourite gym instructor, left happy quotes on cars, complimented people’s outfits, donated to charities, Helped new people set up at the gym, started conversations with strangers on the train.
L: Left an ‘I hope you have a good day’ message on several cars; left chocolate on peoples desks, left you look beautiful on bathroom mirror. Gave tomato plants away, told people to keep the change.
E: Wrote ‘Dear Stranger, Have a nice day’ on a card, attached it to a chocolate bar and popped it in the bottom of the vending machine. Wrote note cards to leave on cars, put post it notes in the bathrooms saying ‘you’re beautiful’ and ‘you look nice today.’ Bought a coffee for the next person in line, planned a bake sale to help a colleague raise funds for a sponsored abseil, walked around the whole building selling cakes and feeling silly ha, put on washing and took it off the line for my parents, which was completely unnoticed 😉
- What were the hardest things to do?
C: Giving the thank you card to my gym instructor, I had to do it in a full class and she asked me what it was for. I felt pretty embarrassed but the outcome was also pretty inspirational (see below Q.6)!!
L: Leaving notices on the cars I felt like I was doing something naughty – it felt very furtive.
E: The hardest were the ones where people might see me. Buying coffee was difficult as I had to explain to the lady working what I was doing and I think she thought I was a bit crazy. When I was waiting to put the choc in the vending machine I had to check I could open the bottom, then someone came up and so I waited till he left and felt so ridiculous sitting there with a chocolate bar NOT EATING IT but trying to look like I was meant to be sitting next to a vending machine. I was waiting the whole time for someone to come and accuse me of planting a bomb or something. Especially since I ran away after looking way too guilty.
- Did you find it hard to complete 3 acts of kindness a day?
C: I found it harder to remember to write down what I did, e.g. to keep tabs if I had done 3 or not. 3 felt like a push on some days especially if I worked at home, but it felt like a good push.
L: If I was busy yes I did.
E: When I was thinking about it I didn’t find it hard and I wanted to do more but if my brain wasn’t focused on it, it was easy to forgot and I would kick myself when I was lying in bed that I didn’t do something.
- How do you feel now the week is over?
C: I feel really good about the week and about how it made me and hopefully others feel. I think one of the main things I have picked up on is the easiest change is just to be really genuine and not embarrassed by that. If someone gives great service, reward it. If someone looks great, tell them. We’re so quick to pick up on the negatives, to partake in idle gossip. Although this will probably always be part of human nature, there is a simple way to readdress the scales!
L: I feel good – I feel I made a few people smile and I think I’ll carry on and do more.
E: I feel good, I want to do more. I still have blank cards in my wallet for when the moment’s come to me. I wish I had extra money to buy people coffee more.
- Did anything surprise you?
C: When I gave the thank you card to my gym instructor, she got a little teary. At the end of the class she came up to me and said that she suffers really badly with her anxiety and nerves before the classes, she always thinks to herself ‘why on earth am I doing it’ and putting herself through it, and how much that thank you card meant to her. It made me think of that quote “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” I look at her and see this amazing, enthusiastic, fun, beautiful teacher yet she struggles to see that in herself. Cue light bulb moment!
L: How nice it felt afterwards to have done something nice and people not knowing it was me, if that makes sense
E: How much people find it hard to accept something for free. The lady at the café told me the man that go the free coffee would not accept it easily and kept trying to give her money. I think it is so ingrained in our minds that there is a catch on everything.
- Did you get or notice any kindness being passed on as part of your acts?
C: I think I past on goodness and friendliness and got that in return, I had conversations with people I wouldn’t normally, I made people smile and in turn that made me smile, and I felt really good about myself for the week.
L: No but then I didn’t really stick around to look out for any
E: I didn’t notice anything being passed on as such but a colleague commented on the post it note (the one saying ‘you’re beautiful’) saying how it made her day and made her feel really good inside. She probably doesn’t get told that a lot. I loved that someone noticed and that there was some bright light that wasn’t there before. That’s the whole reason, right?
- Any other thoughts you may have?
C: for the most part it takes nothing or next to nothing to be kind, to give away positive and affirming words to people is totally free, as is to smile and laugh and find happiness even on dreary days and drab train journeys. When there is cost it is small and I think we all have that spare bit of change in our wallet that we could use to buy someone a coffee or a chocolate bar!
L: I made some smiley cards, some with pre printed messages, and some you can write on, I now carry these around with me. Thank you for reminding me that this is a good thing to do – stopped me being blinkered.
E: I really loved the rebellious feeling after doing something, but a good rebellious feeling. We should instil this in kids, they can feel naughty about running round and playing tricks on people but actually it’s all for good. Kindness gangs haha.It just makes me realise there are little things I can do to change someone’s day and helps me open my eyes to opportunities to help where I may not have noticed before. I’ll definitely keep going.
3 friends over the course of a week managed to inject 50 acts of kindness in to the world and into our community. Those acts could create a knock on effect of kindness that may go far beyond what we set out to do, or it could just be a way for us to feel connected and grounded in our worlds.
Either way we all agree it feels really good to be good!!
I’ll leave you with this thought…
My husband playing devil’s advocate said “well should you really be trying to be good, should you just not be good anyway, it shouldn’t have to be an effort”
Although I agree with this sentiment, and I do personally feel I have a decent level of good within me! When I took that larger stride outside of my kindness comfort zone, MAGIC really did begin to happen!
So today our mantra will be that quote that I just love…
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.