Today, February 17th, is Random Acts of Kindness Day. While it is so easy to become one of those bandwagon criticizers who bags on things like this, I wanted to take a minute to talk about some quick facts, and then share a list of some of my favorite RAK ideas…

There is a variety of people, out in the world, who say that performing Random Acts of Kindness is SELFISH, if you’re doing it for attention or to make yourself feel good.

This is a fine line to balance. On one hand, you have the TikTok contributors, who video themselves helping others (often in really unrealistic or large ways), and I do morally have a problem with this. It feels gross. If you’re handing a homeless person $400 while filming them, and using the dialogue “I saw this guy on the street so I’m giving him FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS and it will change his life! Here you go buddy, it’s yours. You can take it!” It is belittling, exploitive AND not at all generous. You look like a *insert a hundred different expletives here*, and you need to stop. Period.

On the other hand, if you have a photo of your kid and the fire chief posing with the plate of cookies you baked, on Instagram, that’s amazing. Sharing the kindness we have isn’t necessarily looking for attention when our hope is that it could inspire others to spread kindness too. We need to talk about our generosity, and let it spread like wildfire. It comes down to intent…

Now… to quickly address the selfish because it makes you feel good debate:

Everything makes us feel something. EVERYTHING. Every single day we should aspire to feel good. To feel good about the things we’ve done, the choices we’ve made, etc. How we feel impacts our actions, and our direct treatment of others. How we feel can have a LONG REACHING IMPACT, far beyond our feelings. Ripple effects are REAL.

There is no crime in feeling good about something…

While it is my sincere hope that we strive for true kindness every day, I’m going to focus on TODAY. Below is a list of some of my favorite RAK ideas. (And, if you receive my monthly email then you already know that my podcast, the Collective Podcast, has deemed the 20th day of every month, this year, as an Acts of Kindness day. Small gestures really can change the world…)

  • A donation to amazing organizations, fighting the good fight. (like Rescue Freedom, fighting in the trenches agains human trafficking)
  • Leaving children’s books in hospital waiting rooms.
  • taping baggies of coins to hospital vending machines.
  • full-filling wishlist items for underprivileged classrooms.
  • donating time at shelters, throughout the year, instead of just the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season.
  • covering someone’s drive-thru order behind you.
  • purchasing a gift card, when you dine out, and handing it to someone entering the restaurant, as you leave.
  • buying a meal for homeless people.
  • better yet, sharing a meal with them and listening to their story.
  • sending pizza, or donuts to night shift first responders.
  • leaving beverages and treats, in a cooler, for delivery drivers OR
  • a note to ring for warm beverages, (or local coffee place gift cards)
  • mowing an elderly or disabled persons lawn. (or cleaning gutters, etc.)
  • picking up litter.
  • keeping random gas and coffee gift cards in your car, for when those “needs” arise.
  • used book donations to nursing homes and senior centers.
  • donating used clothing and housewares to women’s shelters and programs helping women rebuild their lives.
  • expanding your view of the world by hearing others stories. knowledge develops empathy and empathy paves the path for kindness 100% of the time. (The Collective Podcast EXISTS for this reason)
  • Adopting a foster family, through organizations like this.

There are SO MANY other ways to give… I’d love to hear yours!

(Just a reminder, you can listen to the Collective Podcast here. Please consider joining our Patreon community here.)

When willing…

On Fridays Kate, over at Five Minute Friday, hosts a fun writing prompt and link up. Over the summer I’ve been so busy, that I haven’t been great about joining in, but I’m back to day. (ready and… Willing! ha!)

Basically, we free write for five minutes, using the prompt… And here, I go-

Last night my husband and I were driving home when we nearly hit a dog. Reluctantly, at my insistence, my husband pulled the car over and I jumped out. The beautiful, and obviously very brave, German Shepherd came straight to me. He was so sweet, and also traveling with an adorable Pit Bull friend. They were both so loving, and one had a limp. They’d come running from the parking lot of an animal hospital, so my first thought was that this was all somehow connected.

There were people to call, weren’t there?

Hours later, as it turns out, there were not.

Thanks to a trusting stranger, we met in the dead of night, we followed a (cold) digital trail and eventually found the owner. Success! (despite a frustrated and tired husband, who easily could have just gone home without stopping, and was pretty determined that these sweet boys living their best lives, in our back seat, would not be sleeping over.)

This morning, my husband was putting gas in his car on the way to work, (something we were going to do last night, just before I decided to play Snow White, and rescue all of the animals) when a woman frantically approached him begging for money, for gas, because she was stranded. We seldom carry cash, so he decided instead to put $10 worth of fuel, in her car. Once their interaction was done, he witnessed her hit up several other people for cigarettes and cash, before he drove off to work, feeling like a fool.

Sometimes stepping up is hard, and ALWAYS stepping up will require sacrifice. Whether it’s money, time or a missed opportunity, something will be lost in exchange for the effort. In the end, it doesn’t matter if they were deserving. (the dogs were! The dogs were so sweet and I wanted to keep them forever, but I wanted to keep my husband more!) What matters is that we were willing to do it at all…