Last weekend I was out of town at a conference in Minneapolis. Day two of the conference dawned a cold, dreary, snowy day. I was feeling a bit blue. I haven’t published my book yet, brought the wrong top for my vest, ate too many carbs at breakfast, watched the news on the television in the lobby, you know just a blue day.
Then I saw in the new feed on my phone that Feb 17 is international Random Act of Kindness (RAK) day and it was Feb 17th. So I decided to do 3 RAKS that day. New problem - what would I do? I decided to look around the hotel and really search out ways to be kind.
First opportunity was in the elevator. The woman that got on the floor below mine appeared very flustered. I asked her if everything was ok and she spewed about all the problems with the hotel - not enough parking, her room was too cold, she was supposed to meet someone and the Mall of America and was already complaining about no parking there. She was not happy. I figured this was my first chance to do a RAK.
I told her the hotel had a shuttle to the mall every half hour and it was leaving in about 15 minuses. As we got to the lobby, I took her to the front desk to make them aware of the temperature of her room. They immediately offered to change her room and sent someone up to adjust the thermostat. Although she didn’t seem to appreciate the hotel’s efforts when I saw her at the end of the day in the lobby and she seemed to be having a great time with her friends and waved me down to thank me for fixing her room.
When the conference broke for lunch the restaurant was immediately overrun with the attendees. We had one empty chair at our table and when I saw a late arrival I asked he wanted to eat with us. As we began the introductions he said he was a member of a network marketing company in the purified water segment. I inwardly groaned and regretted my offer. But I was going to be nice today. In the end, we had such a pleasant conversation that I sat there for 30 minutes talking to him after everyone else had left.
At the end of the day when I was going up to change for dinner the lobby was teeming with people in formal wear for a Chinese New Year dance. While waiting in line for the elevator I pick three very nervous looking young men and started talking to them. I made a point to compliment them on something specific about how they looked. They looked at each other and just beamed. One of them commented that usually it was just the girls that looked good, but they looked good too. I also looked around for people taking selfies and offered to snap their picture.
When I got to my room I realized I just had a really, really great day. Doing something kind for someone else with absolutely no agenda or expectation of something in return was amazing. I thought about, and felt good about, those small kind gestures long after the event took place. I was feeling good.
I started to think about those tiny events had completely changed my mood that day. As a society we focus on all the negative things - as evidenced by the daily news. It is full of dramatic stories about the tragedy of the day. No uplifting stories about Eagle Scout projects or acts of human kindness. Just stories about tragic things that I have absolutely no ability to change.
Then when we interact with each other we talk about bad things. How you feel, traffic issues, kid issues, flu season, etc. We start our days in a state of dis-satisfaction and generally end our days there as well. Thus, we feel unhappy.
How do we change this? 90% of your long term happiness has nothing to do with your external world - it comes from inside. It has been scientifically proven that Random Acts of Kindness increase our dopamine levels. Dopamine has two functions, it is the “feel good” hormone and it turns on all the learning centers of your brain. Happy brains are 31% more productive.
How do we become more kind?
Kindness will help you, and it all starts with just small change today. So don’t fret, you won’t need to give your life savings away to a stranger on the street.
When we change, even minimally, we sometimes don’t realize the giant effect this has on our entire lives. Our mind work in the exact same way — if we infuse even a tiny bit of mindfulness, we will be able to transform our mind and our life in an enormous manner.
Start by contemplating what happens if you are constantly grumbling about your enemies or those who annoy you. Peace and happiness will be unreachable and your mind will experience constant agitation. Is your stomach in knots, do you have headaches, insomnia or feel generally agitated and angry?
The sole intent of a mind of anger is to harm. If we do harm, two more enemies will arise and the cycle would repeat until the entire world was our enemy.
When our mind is full of agitation and aggression we become overly sensitive to everything that happens to us. Irritation arises at the slightest provocation. Your co-worker left the coffee pot empty again — this is without doubt very annoying, but this petty issue isn’t worth the fight that may ensue if you decide to dwell. This angry mind serves no benefit, it only disturbs your relationships with friends, family, co-workers and with whatever it may be that you are trying to accomplish.
If you dwell on other’s negative habits you won’t get along with many people, we all have faults, big and small. Those who annoy you will increase — not decrease.
When you look at the world through a lens of kindness, non judgement and compassion, you would see good people. People just like you — people who want to be happy.
The actions of every living being are motivated by the desire for happiness, even people who do bad things; they don’t always know the sickness that inhabits their minds.
Kindness = basic goodness = benefit to the world = benefit to oneself.
Without the kindness of strangers you wouldn’t have food on the table or a roof over your head. Don’t forget that we are all interdependent. We can’t experience anything without each other.
By developing an attitude that you are contributing to the interdependence of all life forms, you will benefit, others will benefit, and ultimately the whole world will benefit.
Lastly, remember that kindness comes in many different forms; we won’t all resemble whimsical hippie’s, kindness can be painful and assertive. Generosity is not always the answer.
Improve your own kindness: incorporate a meditation habit, practice mindfulness and try to recognize when negative thoughts invade. Think and speak positively, and remember —everyone is worthy of love and happiness.
Here are 50 things to choose from as a random act of kindness:
Pay it Backward: buy coffee for the person behind you in line.
Compliment the first three people you talk to today.
Send a positive text message to five different people right now.
Post inspirational sticky notes around your neighborhood, office, school, etc.
Tell someone they dropped a dollar (even though they didn’t). Then give them a dollar.
Donate old towels or blankets to an animal shelter.
Say hi to the person next to you on the elevator.
Surprise a neighbor with freshly baked cookies or treats!
Let someone go in front of you in line who only has a few items.
Leave a gas gift card at a gas pump.
Throw a party to celebrate someone just for being who they are, which is awesome.
Have a LinkedIn account? Write a recommendation for coworker or connection.
Leave quarters at the laundromat.
Encounter someone in customer service who is especially kind? Take an extra five minutes to tell their manager.
Leave unused coupons next to corresponding products in the grocery store.
Leave a note on someone’s car telling them how awesome they parked.
Try to make sure every person in a group conversation feels included.
Write a kind message on your mirror with a dry erase marker for yourself, your significant other or a family member.
Place a positive body image notes in jean pockets at a department store.
Smile at five strangers.
Set an alarm on your phone to go off at three different times during the day. In those moments, do something kind for someone else.
Send a gratitude email to a coworker who deserves more recognition.
Practice self-kindness and spend 30 minutes doing something you love today.
Give away stuff for free on Craig’s List.
Write a gratitude list in the morning and again in the evening.
Know parents who could use a night out? Offer to babysit for free.
Hold up positive signs for traffic or in a park for people exercising outside!
Return shopping carts for people at the grocery store.
Buy a plant. Put it in a terracotta pot. Write positive words that describe a friend on the pot. Give it to that friend!
Write a positive comment on your favorite blog, website, or a friend’s social media account.
Have a clean-up party at a beach or park.
While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
Leave a kind server the biggest tip you can afford.
When you’re throwing something away on the street, pick up any litter around you and put that in the trash too.
Pay the toll for the person behind you.
Put 50 paper hearts in a box. On each cutout write something that is special about your partner or a friend. Give them the box and tell them to pull out a heart anytime they need a pick-me-up.
Everyone is important. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name. Also say “hello” to strangers and smile. These acts of kindness are so easy, and they almost always make people smile.
Write your partner a list of things you love about them.
Purchase extra dog or cat food and bring it to an animal shelter.
Find opportunities to give compliments. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it.
Take flowers or treats to the nurses’ station at your nearest hospital.
Keep an extra umbrella at work, so you can lend it out when it rains.
Send a ‘Thank you’ card or note to the officers at your local police or fire station.
Take muffins or cookies to your local librarians.
Run an errand for a family member who is busy.
Leave a box of goodies in your mailbox for your mail carrier.
Tape coins around a playground for kids to find.
Put your phone away while in the company of others.
Email or write to a former teacher who made a difference in your life.
When you hear that discouraging voice in your head, tell yourself something positive — you deserve kindness too!
Don’t underestimate the ripple effect of your actions on the planet. And don’t underestimate the boomerang effect your actions will have on your own life; even if not immediately apparent.
Allow kindness to become the natural and spontaneous response to every situation, with this increased ability to respond compassionately, true success will follow.
Until next week,
March 5, 2018
Join me every Wednesday on my podcast “Unlocking the Secret to Living Rich”.
If you have questions or comments you can contact me at my email firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @cindybbrown777
Who is Cindy B. Brown? Cindy is a CPA, MBA, CFO, and board member of public and private companies, business consultant, entrepreneur coach and a foremost expert in the field of business mastery. Cindy’s purpose is to motivate, educate and inspire people to live their richest life. She is the host of “Unlocking the Secret to Living Rich”.