If you’re in the spirit of doing good, what better day to give back than on National Random Acts of Kindness Day?
The annual occasion on Feb. 17 is dedicated to doing good deeds for others. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has celebrated National Random Acts of Kindness Day since 1995.
Amid frequent exposure to negativity via news or social media, the foundation says its goal, on Friday and beyond, is to make kindness the norm.
“We feel good when we hear, see and read about people doing good things, and we want to make that more of our lives,” said Brooke Jones, vice president of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
“There are horrible things happening all over the place, but there are also really beautiful things happening; it’s what you choose to focus on,” Jones told USA TODAY.
Here’s what to know about Random Acts of Kindness Day and how to participate:
How did Random Acts of Kindness Day start?
The Random Acts of Kindness movement is thought to have begun over 40 years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
Journalist and writer Anne Herbert is credited with coining the phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty,” the title of her article published in the former CoEvolution Quarterly journal in 1982. The article sparked a kindness movement that spread to surrounding areas.
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In 1991, a San Francisco woman who noticed Herbert’s phrase written on a warehouse wall told her husband and a seventh-grade teacher about it, according to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s account of the phrase’s origins.
The teacher shared it with his students, one of whom was a child of a San Francisco Chronicle writer who then wrote of Herbert and her iconic phrase.
After Reader’s Digest published the story, editors at the Berkeley, California-based Conari Press reprinted it and later published a February 1993 book called “Random Acts of Kindness.”
Inspired readers started creating local Random Acts of Kindness days that year. February 1995 marked the first National Random Acts of Kindness Day, according to the foundation, which launched in the Bay Area in 1995 to facilitate future celebrations that would occur each Valentine’s Day week.
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Random acts of kindness: How to take part
Being kind in the most effective ways can start with small and simple acts, said Jaclyn Lindsey, co-founder and CEO of Kindness.org. The organization explores the science and psychology of the benefits of kindness to help “build a kinder world.”
“Think about what’s in front of you, remove the pressure that it needs to be a big grand gesture,” Lindsey said. “Compliment someone, or reach out to someone who matters to you and let them know why.”
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Other kindness ideas:
- Acknowledge someone who deserves praise
- Help an elderly person with a task
- Leave quarters at the laundromat or vending machine
- Donate blood
- Send an encouraging email
- Donate used books to a library
- Express gratitude to a colleague who is going unnoticed
Sources: Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, Kindness.org
How kindness is good for your health?
Did you know that doing kind acts for others offers physiological benefits? Being kind can positively impact stress levels, depression, anxiety, levels of pain and blood pressure, studies have shown.
“Kindness reduces social anxiety and can improve your immune system,” Lindsey told USA TODAY.
Being kind, Lindsey said, can garner respect for leaders and is considered one of the most attractive traits in romantic partners. The ripple effect of kindness benefits others as well, said Lindsey, whose organization believes in intentional acts of kindness.
“Observers who see kindness have their own heightened or elevated response to it,” she said. “It truly is contagious.”
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Story Credit: usatoday.com