Get ideas for how to use random acts of kindness to boost your and others’ well-being
Have you ever done something nice for someone else, ‘just because’. It wasn’t to repay them or because you had to—it was simply because you wanted to. Well then, you’ve done a random act of kindness. Read on to learn how to do more random acts of kindness in your life to boost your mood and improve the lives of others.
Kindness is one of the most valued character strengths in Western society (Binfet, 2015). We like kind people, so being kind can help us be liked. Beyond that, being kind has been shown to boost not only others’ well-being but also our own well-being. For example, if we spend more money on others we are generally happier, and if we volunteer to help others, we are generally healthier (Curry et al., 2018).
Given that kindness helps us build healthy relationships with others—others who may be able to protect and support us—evolutionary psychologists believe that kindness makes us happy because it helps us survive and thrive. This may be especially true when we help family, friends, community members, and spouses (Curry et al., 2018).
Random acts of kindness are acts performed by a person wishing to either help or positively affect another person (Passmore & Oades, 2015). Sometimes random acts of kindness are defined as kind acts that one does only for someone they don’t know (Baskerville et al., 2000), but this doesn’t seem to be the magic ingredient (Curry et al., 2018).
Who Practices Random Acts of Kindness?
Researchers suggest that some people are more likely to practice random acts of kindness than others. Here are some of the things that might lead us to be kind:
Witnessing our parents engage in random acts of kindness likely makes it more likely that we will too. Monkey see monkey do, right?
If someone tells us that we’re kind, we might also be more likely to engage in random acts of kindness.
Kindness is contagious so if we see someone else showing kindness, we are more likely to show kindness (Baskerville et al., 2000).
Examples of Random Acts of Kindness
Many of us want to try random acts of kindness but were just not sure how. What exactly is a random act of kindness anyway? To get you a sense of what we’re talking about, here are a few examples:
Saying kind words
Doing an act of service for someone else
Noticing good things that others do
Giving your time to someone else
Can Kids Practice Random Acts of Kindness?
There has been a recent push to teach children how to engage in prosocial acts like random acts of kindness (Binfet, 2015). Given how we learn everything easier when we’re young, it makes sense to encourage kids to engage in random acts of kindness. But what does kindness mean when it comes to children?
Kids are not totally unlike adults. According to researchers, kids’ perspective of kindness is that it is “an act of emotional or physical support that helps build or maintain relationships with others” (Binfet & Gaertner, 2015, pp. 36-37). Given this definition, what might be some random acts of kindness for kids? Here are some ideas.
Sharing crayons or other supplies with other kids
Giving someone a gift like a sticker, flower, or colorful eraser
Saying thanks to a fellow student for help with schoolwork
Telling friends what you like about them
Offering to help mom or dad make dinner
Bringing extra snacks in your lunchbox for kids who don’t have any
Kindness is a fantastic tool to use to grow your well-being. It’s not only good for you but has a positive impact on others. Hopefully, you discovered some ways to practice random acts of kindness so that you can more easily implement this tool in your real life.
Binfet, J. T. (2015). Not-so Random Acts of Kindness: A Guide to Intentional Kindness in the Classroom. International Journal of Emotional Education, 7(2), 49-62.
Binfet, J. T., & Gaertner, A. (2015). Children’s conceptualizations of kindness at school. Canadian Children, 40(3), 27-40.
Baskerville, K., Johnson, K., Monk-Turner, E., Slone, Q., Standley, H., Stansbury, S., ... & Young, J. (2000). Reactions to random acts of kindness. The Social Science Journal, 37(2), 293-298.
Curry, O. S., Rowland, L. A., Van Lissa, C. J., Zlotowitz, S., McAlaney, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2018). Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76, 320-329.
Passmore, J., & Oades, L. G. (2015). Positive psychology techniques: random acts of kindness and consistent acts of kindness and empathy. The Coaching Psychologist, 11(2), 90-92.