Why Random Acts of Kindness = A Conscious Choice for Happiness

I’ve had kindness on the brain lately. I guess this isn’t surprising. Practicing “random acts of kindness” is one of my 5 happiness habits after all. And let’s be honest, if there’s one thing this world needs more of, it’s kindness!

I was on the receiving end of such kindness a couple of months ago when I received a surprise in the mail from Dr. James Halik, a mentor, colleague, friend, and all-around positive and encouraging person. Dr. Halik and I had a serendipitous meeting years ago when we crossed paths just as I was beginning my education consulting business. He was a superintendent for many, many years and continues to support schools and educators through his consulting business. His guidance and mentorship have been invaluable to me.

Dr. Halik has mastered the art of “random acts of kindness.” His surprise gift to me was a box full of my favorite things—books! And each was inscribed with a personal message from him. He is truly a giving, thoughtful person. (Another example of his generosity: He plants hundreds of flowers in his greenhouse every year—just to give away to others!)

This gift from Dr. Halik felt like a reminder from the Universe that I’m supported and that I have much to be grateful for. And that’s why I believe random acts of kindness are so powerful.

These little acts don’t just increase the happiness levels of the recipient; they make the giver feel better, too!

And then there’s a ripple effect. The recipient of an unexpected gesture of goodwill often feels such a boost in their mood they’re compelled to pass on goodness and grace to someone else.

I have been on both ends of this altruism, so I know all about that ripple effect. Perhaps that’s what inspired me to recently write personal notes of support to a few members of my community facing difficult times. Maybe it’s why I sometimes surprise my mom with a box of new clothes that I know she’ll love (but might not buy for herself). That ripple effect sometimes causes me to pick flowers for a friend “just because” or send an unprompted text letting someone I care about know how much they mean to me.

And when I’m traveling (as I frequently do), I know the power of kindness is what compels me to bring back a dessert from dinner for the hotel desk clerk. These hard-working people are always so warm and welcoming, they deserve a little indulgence!

What do these examples of kindness have in common? They’re all incredibly easy to perform—and they make an often immeasurable difference to the person on the receiving end.

With that in mind, I’m issuing a 21-day challenge: perform one act of kindness per day. (Why 21 days? Because research shows it takes 21 days to see an increase in the happiness and productivity of your daily routine.)

And if you need help with ideas, try some from this list:

– Send a care package to a college student

– Give a candy bar to a toll booth worker

– Pick up an extra coffee for a coworker

– Pay for the meal of the person behind you in a fast food drive-thru

– Send an email to a colleague or employee complimenting their work

– Text a friend just to say how much you care

– Pick flowers for a friend (or have a bouquet delivered)

– Bake a batch of cookies for your neighbor

– Smile and genuinely thank the Walmart cashier

– Leave a thank you note in the mailbox for your mail carrier

– Write a note to someone who inspires you—and explain WHY

– Thank someone whose “behind the scenes” job often goes unnoticed

– Support a child in need, either financially or emotionally

– Serve meals at a homeless shelter

– Visit a nursing home and spend time with the residents

– Give a stranger a compliment

– Plant a tree (the planet could use a little kindness, too!)

There are seemingly endless ways to extend a little kindness to a family member, a friend, a co-worker, an acquaintance, even a stranger. These acts of kindness often take just a few moments to perform—but they have the power to make an immeasurable difference.

Your 21 days begin now. So get started spreading that kindness!