Does kindness attract kindness?

I love the idea that simply putting positive energy out into the universe will bring more of it into our own lives.  I do in many ways believe in karma and the law of attraction, that what you give to the world is what you get from it. Several people have commented that doing a Year of Kindness must surely mean that I’ve got a whole truckload of good karma coming my way. And it would certainly be nice to think that performing small acts in the interest of others will attract more kindness and positivity to my own life.

 But (please excuse me being realistic instead of entirely idealistic for a very brief moment) I think it’s inevitable that no matter how good the intentions may be, sometimes kindness will be taken not with appreciation but indifference or even resentment. It makes sense that if karma does exist, it probably won’t come in the form of instant gratification.

Having said that, something that has been instantly gratifying is the amazing support I have already received for this project. Honestly, I really wasn’t sure that anyone besides my Mum would be reading this so it’s pretty wonderful to get so much positive feedback from both friends and strangers! Thankyou for all the different ways you have shown your support – I am adding more of your fantastic ideas to my list daily (see Kindness 365) and I have even received a new kindness uniform (see photo above) from my lovely friend K.  It certainly seems to me that sometimes you only have to give a little positivity to the world in order to receive a lot in return. However, you’ll have to stay tuned to this little social experiment and see for yourself: ‘Does kindness attract kindness?’

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Kindness 365

I must admit that I’ve been procrastinating on this project for a while. It’s such a simple idea, and yet the practicality of committing myself to 365 kindnesses is a bit overwhelming. (What if I’m sick at home all day or … I get stuck in an elevator?) But then again, I think anything worth doing is daunting at the start. I love Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s gorgeous ‘Thought Bubble: Kindness’ video (see above), and I find asking myself the question ‘How do I want to be remembered?’ is a very powerful motivator to stop procrastinating and start doing.

Originally I thought I would focus on being kind to strangers but I think there is something to the saying that true kindness begins at home, with family and friends. And I don’t want to forget mother nature, either. So with all that in mind here are my ideas so far:

  • Smile therapy: Make a conscious effort to smile and say hello to everyone – within reason!
  • Caffiene fix: Pay for someone’s coffee
  • Volunteer (Aussies check out thisGo Volunteer)
  • Write a kind note and stick it somewhere lots of people will see it  (OperationBeautiful)
  • Gratitude: Write a thank you note to someone I am grateful for
  • Go green: Clean up rubbish on my block
  • She’s Electric: Use no lights for a day 
  • Flower Power: Give flowers to someone who needs cheering up
  • Donate blood (Australian Red Cross Blood Donation)
  • Pay someone’s bus fare
  • Cook for someone
  • Donate food/clothing/materials to a charity
  • Give food to a homeless person
  • Visit someone in a retirement home
  • Offer to babysit for someone who really needs a night off
  • Party for a cause: Plan or attend an event to raise money for a worthy cause (Everyday Hero)
  • Complimentary compliments: when you think something nice about someone, say it
  • Hug therapy: Give friends and family hugs today
  • Miles of smiles: make smile stones and leave them for others to find
  • Vending bending: Leave change for a snack taped to a vending machine
  • Microvolunteering: head to sparked, online volunteering for busy people.
  • $10 Challenge: Give a stranger $10.

And this is hopefully where you can help me out. Can you think of a small act of kindness that might bring some extra happiness to someone else? What simple gesture would brighten or has brightened your day?

Can Kindness Be Powerful?

On my first day of high school I caught the wrong bus. Instead of an ‘all stops’, I got on an ‘express’ bus which sailed straight past my school and into the city. I had been nervous enough about starting school without this added drama. How would I get back? Would I have to explain my stupid mistake to my new teacher in front of a whole class of people I didn’t know? I was almost in tears by the time the bus finally stopped.

Luckily for me, the bus driver was feeling particularly kind. After I explained the situation he used up his whole break time to drive me all the way back to school and cheerfully chatted to me the whole journey about how much fun school was and all the great friends I was sure to make. I got there right on the bell and was actually excited to get to class. Since that day I have encountered many, many grumpy, disgruntled bus drivers but the only one that I vividly remember is the one that went out of his way to be genuinely kind. And when I think about it, that lovely bus driver appeared on the one bus trip I needed him most.

Sometimes it’s easy to find evidence that no one cares. In the wider world as well as in our own backyard, there seems to be a collective anger, distrust, isolation and general lack of looking out for one another. People would generally agree that while being kind might be morally admirable, it doesn’t get you very far in the real world. If you asked most bosses about the most advantageous personality traits to have in order to run a company, it is highly unlikely kindness would make the list. And yet, most employees would undoubtedly agree that if they had a kinder, more appreciative boss it would make them far more productive and far more loyal. Kindness is often viewed with suspicion and confusion. Even if a kind act is deemed genuine and offered without a hidden agenda, few would see it as demonstrating strength or power. In fact, as a good friend of mine so succinctly put it: kindness is viewed as weakness.

But everyone would like more kindness in their lives. Everyone wants to feel valued, loved, acknowledged, appreciated – that they are significant somehow in the chaotic immensity that is life. And who has not experienced how the smallest act of kindness – a smile, a helping hand, a bus driver going out of his way to make sure you get where you need to go – can totally transform someone’s day? And if there were more of these little acts of kindness, transforming more people’s days each and every day, making people feel more appreciated, more significant, more positive about themselves and the world, I’d say that adds up to something pretty powerful.

So in an effort to live the beautiful adage “Be the change you want to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi) and make it more than pretty idealism, here is my plan: to perform an act of kindness each day for a whole year. I am going to come up with 31 kind acts to perform each month – I will let you know what I have so far in my next post and I would love to hear your suggestions. I will start and finish this project on my birthday, April 5th, and make my 26th year of life a Year of Kindness.