I love hearing about random acts of kindness. That’s basically what this whole blog is about. Those small, everyday kindnesses that can make a big difference to someone else.
So I found this article by Dr. Susan Smalley, called There are no random acts of kindness: the non-random nature of kindness is key to its value, really interesting.
Here’s an excerpt:
I think it is a misnomer to describe acts of kindness as random; kindness arises with an intention to “be kind” followed by an action. While the acts may be directed toward anonymous people or animals, the person’s act of kindness is anything but random — it is deliberate and directional — non-random in nature.
I think that the non-random nature of kindness is key to its value. It reflects a conscious choice on the part of the actor, to give, to help, to share and to soothe. It seems to me that it is in the conscious choice we reveal our role in shaping our own humanity and even our evolutionary future.
The preparation of a sack lunch for a loved one is full of kindness; it is intentional and directional. I remember writing little notes and including small “surprises” (e.g. Hershey kiss) for my kids in their lunches when they were little. A sack lunch can carry a lot of love within it.The other day I saw my daughter preparing a “sack lunch” for her boyfriend who is in a rather rigorous 5 day a week 8 hour a day school program. She wrote his name on the bag — just like I used to do for her and her brothers when they were little. It was such a sweet act of kindness, and it made me think about all those sack lunches that will be prepared in the next months as the fall school season begins.
But there are many non-random acts of kindness around us all the time. When we meet a homeless man or woman on the street, we may offer a cup of coffee, give some change, or just wish them well with a smile and hello. That is anything but random — we choose to place our attention on them and we choose how to respond — with kindness or not…
I think what we really want to practice are more non-random acts of kindness – directed to those we know and to those we don’t know – as much possible.
I am sure it will make our lives happier and the world a kinder place.
So, whether we call them random or deliberate is clearly not the important thing. But that we try to do them at all.
One very non-random thing I’ve done a couple of times is to donate stacks of my beloved New Yorker magazine (which I try to read cover to cover, because every issue is just so dang amazing, but don’t always get to do) at my local hospital.
They conveniently have a big bin near the entrance to collect reading material for patients and their friends and families. What a great idea!
Recycling is all well and good but if you can share a great read with others that, to me, is an act of kindness… although definitely not a random one.
Song of the day, for the holidays. Enjoy!