✦ Manners cost nothing but they go a long way.
I’m not sure if it was my Mother specifically who coined that phrase but it is one she installed into me and my brothers from a very early age. Be polite, be respectful, be generous, be KIND.
Fast forward several decades and I’m sure I am not alone when I find myself increasingly bemused at how standards in society have slipped and continue to do so, and how often I find myself muttering under my breath as to exactly how rude people can be nowadays.
I therefore find great solace being a part of the Brilliant Online team, whose core values are kindness and treating everyone and everything with respect. It is something we all adhere to and encourage at every turn, something we hope and believe is reflected in the many stories, wide range of topics and themes we have brought to our readers in the past few years.
It is therefore with much delight that we celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17th, an opportunity to cultivate kindness and brighten up someone’s day via a random act. Random Acts of Kindness Day was founded by a nonprofit organisation called The Random Acts Of Kindness Foundation in 1995 in Denver, Colorado, USA.
Their ethos is simple: “We are rooted in the belief that all people can connect through kindness and that kindness can be taught”. They focus on encouraging simple gestures, which can make a big positive impact to someone else’s lives – it could be just a smile, a kind word or compliment, lending one’s ear to hear another’s problems or a warm, comforting hug.
There have been many people over the years that have applied this approach, adopting kindness and love as their mantras in the face of all the world’s troubles. The Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, even the Beatles who sang “All You Need Is Love!”
These people expressed kindness naturally, something we don’t all necessarily do in our busy, stressful day-to-day lives. However, Random Acts of Kindness Day strives to remind us of how impactful a kind gesture can be in the hope we can extend it beyond just the one day into a more habitual instinct.
The response to the question of what are some of the suggestions and examples of a random act of kindness is literally unlimited as kindness has no boundaries! It could be making a donation to a local or international charity, it could be adopting a pet or visiting an animal shelter to provide help or to donate food or supplies. In the current climate of an ever-increasing cost of living, maybe you could donate some groceries or goods to a local food bank or homeless shelter, or give your time as a volunteer to a charity organisation. Offering a cup of coffee or some food to someone suffering living on the streets is a very worthy example.
In the current climate of an ever-increasing cost of living, maybe you could donate some groceries or goods to a local food bank or homeless shelter
Perhaps it is paying a compliment to a work colleague or family member, a few nice words about how much you appreciate them, which can certainly lighten up their day. Maybe extending this approach to a total stranger might be a little less advisable given the over-wary world we currently live in, with a seemingly paranoid focus on being offended, but it could be worth a go if you’re brave enough!
Harking back to my penchance for good manners, this one is natural for me, but holding a door open for someone with a smile, or better still holding that elevator door for someone when you see them approaching (come on, we know we’ve all hit the ‘close door’ button on more than one occasion over the years!)
Living in Phuket, Thailand, I am exposed first-hand to the fantastic work the non-profit organisation Soi Dog Foundation does in striving to reduce the suffering of animals in Asia and beyond. Backed by powerful public figure advocates such as Ricky Gervais and Dame Judy Dench, they are a fine example of helping others through kindness all year round. Similarly Toni Jessop, a one-woman band saving man’s best friends, also based in Phuket, who works tirelessly to save animals all year round (see her story here). Both fine examples where kindness is the absolute motivation.
Kindness is the way forward and we need much more of it in this ever tumultuous world we inhabit. Late last year Sonja Lyubomirsky, a behavioural scientist at the University of California, conducted research on the science of happiness and concluded that acts of kindness are the key. So if the science backs it up, we absolutely should be doing more of it, right? Right!
We leave the final words to the Dalai Lama himself who said: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Sage advice indeed, Sir...
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