What 365 Acts of Kindness Have Given Me

Countless cups of coffee. Many bunches of flowers. Hundreds of high fives. At least 365 smiles. Baked goods for neighbours and gratitude cards for friends. Compliments and positive post it notes. Volunteering time and donating clothes. Leaving small change in parking metres, vending machines and sometimes upturned hats. Food and conversation for those that didn’t have either. A fundraising BBQ for a friend and sleeping under the stars (or clouds) for the homeless. These are some of the things I gave during the Year of Kindness. So what exactly did I get?

Well, basically, some crazy, challenging, beautiful, unexpected, wonderful, confronting experiences and lots of life lessons…

Embrace uncertainty because you can never ever predict how someone will respond, even when your only motivation is to inject some happiness into their day. Fear? Anger? Joy? Hugs and kisses? Even the smallest act of kindness can create all of the above (and did).

Courage comes from believing strongly enough in something to ignore the fear that comes with it. Being kind to strangers is scary (due to the aforementioned uncertainty and strong possibility of public humiliation.) But a world without kindness is scarier.


Perception shapes reality by allowing us to see only what we believe. Some people were literally unable to see kindness when it was right in front of them, reacting with suspicion and distrust because they did not believe that kindness without hidden agenda even existed. And because they ran away from it, their perception remains their reality.

No matter how crazy you feel for dreaming your dream, if you share it you will discover other people out there who are just as crazy about it as you are. After believing I was a little bit nuts for wanting to make the world a kinder place, I discovered all of you – a whole army of incredible Kindness Crusaders all over the world doing just that.

All of these lessons, and many more, kind of boil down to one idea. In my very first post back in March 2010 I wondered: Can kindness be powerful? And I found out almost immediately that it could, but  it wasn’t until well after the very last Undercover Kindness Mission that I could pinpoint what it was that gave kindness its power. The mission was a kindness treasure hunt. The group split into three teams, decoded clues and headed out into Sydney to give flowers, positive post-its and birthday presents (27 presents for my 27th birthday). It went something like this:

It was a fun day, and as always there was an incredibly positive energy that comes from a group of people gathering with the simple intention of spreading happiness to others. But in all the organising and craziness I didn’t have much time to reflect on the very last kindness mission in a whole Year of Kindness. It wasn’t until a few days afterwards that an answer suddenly came to me about why it is that kindness is so powerful. Why people can react to kindness with anger or joy but very rarely indifference.  Why kindness gave me the courage to share my crazy journey with all of you and to decide to face uncertainty and fear 365 times over. Why it can alter someones day or even transform their perception of the world. And I think it is this:

The essence of kindness is validation. Everyone wants to feel important, heard, cared for, valued, understood, appreciated. And in an act of kindness, no matter how small, we are telling that person that we see them, we acknowledge them, that even if we don’t know them they are worthy of our help and our care.   And that is powerful. That one small act of validation truly can throw out roots in all directions that create new trees. So take a moment, think of how you might help, cheer, encourage, support, give, even in the smallest of ways, and go and do it. For in that simple act there is endless power and possibility.

Thankyou for joining me on this roller coaster ride of a year, and offering so much support, love and wisdom. You can catch me blogging about my Tanzanian adventure here: nextstoptanzania.wordpress.com. I hope life is kindful for you all, and if its not remember you have the power to be the change.

Cat

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22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 1000 mitzvahs
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 01:03:32

    Cat,

    Congratulations on your incredible and transforming year. I completely agree that the essence of kindness is validation and each of us is looking to connect with others. That connection can be with a friend or a stranger but knowing we are heard, noticed and valued is so crucial. Unfortunately, like you discovered not everyone believes that someone might provide a kindness without altruistic reasons. Those folks just aren’t ready for that message. Luckily though many people you will connect with will be ready for it.

    Good luck in your new endeavors. I am sure they will continue to teach you and you will continue to teach others.

    Your friend in kindness,
    Linda

    Reply

    • happydancecat
      May 12, 2012 @ 17:55:52

      Thanks Linda. You’re so right – you can’t change anyone, even through kindness, and that was a big lesson for me this past year.

      You’ve been a huge inspiration to the cause! All the best for your ongoing kindness journey. :)

      Reply

  2. Roberta
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 01:09:58

    Aww..kind, compassionate, caring young lady, may blessing and joy follow you wherever you go in life…

    Reply

  3. Ol
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 08:42:38

    Great Job cad! Congratulations!!! your inspiring.

    Love O

    Reply

  4. themolesworthdiarist
    Apr 21, 2012 @ 22:35:41

    Congratulations on finishing the year and all the best for Tanzania!

    Reply

  5. viewsfromsue
    Apr 21, 2012 @ 23:33:48

    Your blog is such an uplifting blessing. Ever notice how you never regret the kind things you did for people? That’s me anyway. We should all be doing this every day! You go girl and the best to you in Tanzania. :-)

    Reply

    • happydancecat
      May 12, 2012 @ 18:00:03

      That’s very true, Sue. I definitely don’t regret any of the kind deeds I did in hindsight, although at the time I wanted to take some of them back!

      I’m sure you are already doing little kindnesses everyday, so celebrate them. All the best to you too.

      Reply

  6. sheila7697
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 10:22:43

    Congratulations for having completed your year of kindness. I would bet that, even if it is not done in a scheduled or documented way, you will forever be sharing and spreading kindness to others. Thanks for the inspiration, and good luck with your next adventure! ~ Sheila

    Reply

    • happydancecat
      May 12, 2012 @ 18:02:23

      I’m sure you’re right, Sheila. I have definitely developed habits of kindness that will (hopefully) always be with me. I think all I learned will serve me well for the next adventure! Thankyou so much for reading and commenting.

      Reply

  7. Lesh Karan
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 08:34:32

    Dear Cat, congratulations honey! What a satisfying project you have just finished – thanks for sharing it will all of us, and for showing us the novel ways in which we can show. Wish you all the best for your time in Tanzania. I will follow your experiences through your new blog.
    You are one amazing person!
    Keep smiling and being who you are xo

    Reply

    • happydancecat
      May 12, 2012 @ 18:08:52

      Thankyou lovely Lesh! Yes, its a nice sense of achievement to have completed it. It’s been wonderful sharing the kindness journey with you, and being inspired to cook kindful and delicious food at the same time. Such joy that you bring by really truly doing what you love and being who you are. I’m sure we’ll still hang out in wordpress world every now and then! xoxo

      Reply

  8. pattyabr
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 12:32:56

    Congrats on your fabulous year. I love the message about Love in the pic above. You have blessed many people and best wishes for your next journey in spreading love.

    Reply

    • happydancecat
      May 12, 2012 @ 18:05:06

      Thanks, Patty. Its lovely, isnt it? Its from a book of quotes from children when they were asked about the meaning of love. Best wishes to you too my dear, and thankyou so much for all your support and encouragement.

      Reply

  9. Trackback: the Infinite Monkey speaks: on perception | steadily skipping stones
  10. Daena
    Nov 06, 2012 @ 03:16:16

    This is wonderful thanks Cat! :) I am from Perth and have been doing something similar for the last two to three years! :) I am so glad that I am not the only one who undertook the crazy and decided to do 365 kind acts in a year! :) You are an inspiration and i will be referring my readers back here! Some awesome ideas! :)
    Cheers, Daena x
    p.s. i hope you are/or have had a wonderful time in Tanzania! :)

    Reply

  11. amandam252
    Sep 21, 2013 @ 09:27:09

    Thank you for sharing your amazing story with us. You are truly and inspiration to me! And congrats for sticking to your task! Such an inspiration!
    Check out my blog?
    Thank you so much!
    spreadingkindness.wordpress.com

    Reply

  12. Trackback: The Unlearning of Softness | Year of Jamaica
  13. Trackback: What Would You Do If You Only Had One Life? | The EYA Tribe

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