The Week of Secret Kindness
I jumped head-first into this challenge after waiting not-so-patiently for the new year to begin, and was absolutely thrilled to find that the first challenge of the year involved kindness. I often do things that I perceive to be kind, but other people may perceive as being a little weird. I’m still scarred from the bus incident (post here) where I unintentionally told somebody I see regularly on the bus how awfully ill he looked, and offered to do his shopping for him (he wasn’t sick, he had just had an operation and he has a family to help him do his shopping). I’m also still traumatised by the time I almost gave an elderly woman a heart attack. It was in the middle of a torrential downpour and she had her hands full of shopping bags, with no umbrella. I pulled up next to her in my car and barked out of my window for her to get in and I’d take her to wherever she was going, alarming her to the point that she jumped back, dropped a shopping bag and very nearly slipped down a ramp that conveniently was right next to her at that exact moment. That one haunted me for years.
Nonetheless, I was pleased to discover that this week’s task was to conduct one act of kindness each day, and to keep it absolutely secret. I wasn’t to breathe a word to anybody whilst doing it, which added to the fun! It forced me to assess my perception of kindness, and made me realise that it can in many cases (most in fact!) cost nothing. People often think of kindness as giving to charity or giving to somebody less fortunate, but kindness can be many things. It was great to discover this because I’m not made of money and it kind of feels like the easy way out to donate money to a charity every single day anyway. It’s good to get creative!
Now in the true spirit of the week’s challenge, I’m not going to confirm what kind things I did that week, but I am going to list a few things that I may have done, along with other possible things that I thought of doing! I enjoyed my week of active kindness so much that I carried it into the next week, and every week since.
Here’s a few ideas for you to try at home!
Give partner, friend, colleague, family or even a stranger a sincere compliment
Give your dog or pet your undivided attention for playtime. Enjoy their beautiful happy face and give them one too many treats!
Be vegetarian or vegan for a day or as long as you can manage – the longer the better but any time is good!
Donate to a charity of choice
Treat yourself to a bunch of flowers (most underrated one EVER!)
Stop for a chat with a homeless person. Buy them some breakfast or food and ask them what they really want. If they say they just want a coffee, ask them ‘no food?’ you’ll be surprised at how many are just being polite and not saying what they really want
Hide or drop some money on the floor for somebody to find because it’s always amazing to find money on the floor
Smile at everyone you pass and wish people good morning, day or evening, even if you don’t get anything back and even if it’s a Monday. Especially if it’s a Monday. I have a friend at work who wishes everybody a Happy Monday, and I often think to myself ‘there is nothing happy about a Monday’, except her wishing me a happy Monday. Job done!
Do something that makes you feel good, even if somebody else is inconvenienced by it (turning off phone, not replying to messages immediately, not taking a call etc.). Kindness to yourself is still kindness.
Tell everybody you come across to ‘have a nice day’. There is a guy who works in the shop by my work who, without fail, wishes me a nice day when he’s on shift. It really brightens my day.
Do the ‘pay it forward’ scheme – buy a coffee or lunch for someone and ask the cashier to give it to someone who looks like they could use a pick-me-up
Buy a stranger flowers
Tell someone you admire their work or something they’ve done
Share a Facebook post for a small company or initiative
Pick up and bin rubbish in the street, local park or area of wildlife
Volunteer your time to someone or something that needs it
Leave positive feedback for a product, company or service that you’ve bought from, shopped with, listened to etc.
Write to a company where you’ve received great service from an individual and tell them about it
Spend time with a friend and give them your undivided attention (and yes I know this shouldn’t even have to be said, but sometimes it does – put your phone down and be present).
Message somebody who has changed your life in some way and tell them how, even if you don’t get a reply (I have to let slip on this one – I have done this on numerous occasions in the last month and each time, somebody has been thrilled at receiving the message and something positive has come from it!)
The list could go on forever, but I’ll keep this short and sweet. There’ll be endless lists online, though I’m sure you don’t need me or a bunch of internet sources to tell you how to be kind. One thing I learnt from this challenge is that being kind to yourself is extremely important. Also, kindness is subjective. Sometimes, things you might take for granted because you think they’re just common decency (like holding a door open for somebody) can still be kind. By thinking of it in this way, you’re already becoming more mindful and aware. The more you do it the more creative you’ll get, and it’s always nice to know that you’ve inadvertently brightened somebody’s day.
See you next week!