November 13th is World Kindness Day. Although it’s the first time I have ever heard of World Kindness Day, it has been playing on my mind ever since I did. What is it? Why do we need a kindness day, and what exactly is kindness? When have I experienced kindness, and when last was I actively kind to anyone else?
That question stumped me. I mean, what exactly is kindness? Is it being nice to someone? Is it doing something nice for someone else? My husband made me coffee yesterday. Was this his duty, his turn, or was he being kind? A friend bought a car for me in her name once. Was that kindness? What exactly does ‘kind’ mean?
Wikipedia describes kindness as a state â€œmarked by goodness and charitable behaviour, mild disposition, pleasantness, tenderness and concern for others.â€
I gave a waiter an unnecessarily large tip the other day, because the restaurant was really quiet and I felt bad for him â€“ I guess that was kindness (concern for others.) A few days later I was a little short of cash at the checkout and the man behind me popped a few coins down in front of the cashier, covering my shortfall (charitable behaviour). So that’s kindness, then.
But why do we need a day dedicated to it?
Well, the best answer I can think of is that we must need it. We can get so caught up in our own lives, our own hardships and our own needs that we don’t even notice the needs of others sometimes. And even when we do, we can be so overwhelmed with the need we see around us that it’s easier to shut down, to feel nothing.
I read recently about an American woman who moved to South Africa, and for the first while, the poverty made her weep, daily. Every traffic light has someone begging at it, each with their tragic life situation splashed on cardboard and tied around their necks. She says in the beginning she gave to every one, she gave at every street, as much as she could. And then one day she stopped. She couldn’t give anymore. It was easier to stare ahead and pretend the beggars just weren’t there.
It makes dealing with the hardship easier.
So we need a day to remind ourselves, to recall a time when we gained more from giving than from forgetting. We need a day to jumpstart our engines again, in the hope that it’ll last a little longer and our kindness will stretch out and impact the world.
I’m sure you know the story of the single candle in a dark room, which lights one other candle, which lights two candles, which lights one each, which in turn lights one each and each candle only lights one other candle, but in moments, the whole room is full of light? Well, kindness is like that. One small candle can start a bush fire.
So what can we do this National Kindness Day to make one small (or several small or large) difference? I’ve listed a few websites here with fantastic resources. Hopefully you can find something here, and hopefully you will be as enriched by the giving as your recipient is in receiving:
- Tag someone with a Smile Card from Help Others.org (I once received a Â£10 food voucher with a smile card and I never found out who from)
- Check out the kindness ideas on the Smile Deck, also at Help Others.org
- Join the Karma Army (primarily in, but not limited to London) to spread cheer around the UK.
- Read: Random Acts Of Kindness: 365 Ways to Make the World a Nicer Place
- Tell someone you love them, they’re special to you, or simply wish them a happy World Kindness Card with these e-cards
- If you’re a parent, get your children involved with these colouring pages and craft ideas from Crayola.
- If you’re a teacher, use the Crayola World Kindess Day lesson plans to make a ‘good deed calender’, or a ‘volunteer coupon package’ or any of the 42 other ideas
- Here are ten ideas for ways to celebrate World Kindness Day
- Karma Cooler have 100 ideas from last year of kind things to do
Is there anything you can add to these resources? What do you think about World Kindness Day? Do we need it? And what does that say about us? More importantly, how do we teach our children to be kind?