I got a notice today reminding me that February 15-21 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. Included were a list of kind acts one can do, but doesn’t that take away the randomness of being kind if you have to plan to be kind? Isn’t the purpose of being kind simply . . . being kind? And not just one week out of the year, but every week.
It reminds me of that scene in Road House where Patrick Swayze tells his bouncers to be kind. Not matter what anyone does, be kind. If they get in your face, be kind. Well, he actually said to be nice, but this isn’t a post about being nice — it’s about being kind — though there isn’t much difference between the two concepts when it comes to behavior. Being nice is about being pleasant and agreeable, and being kind goes beyond simply being nice to being benevolent. Either way, it’s about treating others with respect and graciousness.
So many of the suggestions for unrandomly committing random acts of kindness are neither particularly nice nor particularly benevolent, especially if you are doing it for the purpose of being kind to make yourself feel good about being kind.
For example, leaving a note on someone’s car telling them to have a nice day. Have you ever had a nice day just because someone told you to? Doesn’t it irk you more than it evokes kindness, especially if they lifted your windshield wiper to secure the note? A better act of kindness would have been for them to keep their note writing to themselves.
Another idea was to place a quarter in a new purse in a store because it will be a treasure to the person who buys the purse. Um, no. First of all, in no way can a mere twenty-five cents be considered a treasure. And second of all, it would probably trip all the metal detectors as the person left the store, creating an embarrassing situation. Well, probably not, since the detectors only detect theft-detection devices, but still . . . leaving a quarter is not really being kind. It’s better to save your quarter for the person standing in front of you in the check-out line who is fumbling for cash, irritating the hell out of you. So, be kind. Even if you don’t give the person the quarter, be kind. Getting irritated and impatient does no one any good.
One popular suggestion is to bake cookies for an elderly neighbor. So not a good idea! The elderly person might like or even want the cookies, but are they allowed to eat them? After all, they could be diabetic or prediabetic, or on a diet, and your foolish act of kindness could derail their attempt at better health. Besides, with The Bob running rampant, I certainly wouldn’t want to eat anything someone made just so they could feel kind, so for sure I won’t make anything for anyone else, and that, in its own way, is a kindness — it shows I have their best interests in mind.
One thing I do agree with is to only say nice things. That ties in with the Swayze quote. But not just for that one week, but for every week. There is seldom a reason not to say nice things unless people are being larcenous toward you or creating a dangerous situation.
For example, one of the suggestions is to help an older person cross the street. Um, no. If you lay hands on me, well, that’s my cue to NOT be nice.
So, before you do something kind, make sure people welcome your kindness, otherwise it isn’t kind; it’s merely self-serving, and being self-serving generally falls under the category of not being kind.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator
January 29, 2021 at 6:04 pm
It is a nice idea with or without “ Unrandom Acts of Random Kindness”
I do every day for people to keep open the door behind me because I am living in a big city. Or the person running behind me while I am walking. While travelling in the subway to leave my seat to the very old people or pregnant woman or children or physically handicapped.
If it is in a shop or other circumstance. For the people ask for the directions.
While I am driving to leave the people to cross the road instead of driving faster.
It takes naturally one to 10 seconds.
In other occasions that I cannot remember.
Because of pandemic I must to be very careful not to touch people or their belongings to help.
Certains gestes I have completely stopped after my wife departure.
January 29, 2021 at 9:44 pm
That’s what I’m talking about — just being kind to people every day. We don’t need a special day or week to remind us to be kind.
January 30, 2021 at 5:46 am
Pat the present world if you are honest, sincere, kind and gentle by nature generally majority of the people think that your are dumb and fool and it is easy to make advantage of you in all sens for their personal interests. It seems that lot of people forget that you are intelligent and educated.
It is not easy to stay always alert, intelligent, brilliant, tact, polite, and diplomacy in my every day life. But I try.
Without my best friend it is very sad and uncomfortable.
With grief it is a big challenge to the survival in all senses.
I continue my travelling without knowing the destination.
January 30, 2021 at 8:56 am
None of us know or can even guess. So many of us end up in places (geographical or mental) that we never imagined. In my case, there is no way I could ever have known that all those years of grieving would lead me here to this house, this place. Until then, I had no choice but to follow blindly where grief led me.
January 30, 2021 at 10:36 am
Tanks Pat for your reply is with a clear mind and helps me. Geographically the three years of grief helped me to have and clear idea except some surrealistic things or some kind of phenomenal change. I have a strong idea in which place I am going to live. The mental state at the moment I really don’t know. I always had some kind of disciplined life. I try to fallow your experience. thank you again.