On November 2nd, 2014 I began a 30-day kindness challenge in service of strengthening my kindness practice while also trying something new to celebrate Thanksgiving. While my insights aren’t revolutionary or even necessarily new, I’m reminded that acts of kindness really do have a ripple effect and the ripple happens when giving and receiving kindness.
Kindness is a source of joy and fulfillment. Whether or not an acknowledgement followed, engaging in acts of kindness just feels good. The internal sense of satisfaction that comes from intentionally practicing kindness on a daily basis creates something more than happiness. This kindness practice generated a sense of purpose and contribution. A resonance that can only be described as joy and fulfillment.
Kindness fosters connection. In preparing for my kindness challenge, I included mostly the names of specific people but also a few slips of paper entitled “Random Person.” Engaging in random acts of kindness with my spouse, friends, and family members fosters gratitude for others and for our relationship. For random people, even if we never spoke or made eye contact, those moments reminded me of our similarities rather than our differences.
Kindness comes in many forms. Part of this challenge was about learning and practicing different forms of kindness. A simple Google search and Pinterest connected me with lots of creative, inexpensive, and fun ways to be kind. One of my favorites was leaving encouraging words on someone’s mirror.
Look for and acknowledge acts of kindness from others. While an act of kindness isn’t about recognition or acknowledgement, it still feels good when it happens. When someone offered a smile, said “thank you”, or some other form of acknowledgement time stood still for a brief moment. I find myself being more intentional about acknowledging kindness in others because observing moments of kindness is part of the ripple effect. When I see it, I want to do it too. When I experience it, I want to pay it forward.
Be willing and ready to accept kindness from others. Our culture of hyper independence sometimes gets in the way of people being able to receive kindness from others. It felt amazing when people willingly received acts of kindness without pushback or hesitation. Observing this behavior in others reminds me to be open and ready to receive. I think giving is sometimes easier than receiving, but I think receiving can be a form of a kindness too!
What about you. What insights or intentions emerged from participating in the 30-day kindness challenge?