February 17th is National Random Act of Kindness Day. This is a day dedicated to encouraging people to go out of their way to be nice to others without expecting anything in return. Studies show that people being kind to others often inspires those people to take on kind actions themselves. One of the more memorable stories of people returning the favor was the 11-hour Starbucks chain of kindness. A customer early in the morning paid for coffee for the customer in the vehicle behind theirs. This led to a chain continuing into the evening. The Starbucks employees kept a tally, eventually ending with 378 people who had participated.
The Random Act of Kindness Foundation has tips on their website for how you can get more involved during February with acts of kindness. They provide some tips to help you make the most of the holiday. My favorite was the idea of having a Kindness Jar where you write down nice things you do for people, nice things people do for you, or nice things you see happening around you. At the end of the day, week, or month, you can go through the jar and remember the kind acts. It truly brightens my spirits.
You don’t have to have any special skills to brighten someone’s day. One of my roommates went out with some friends to Barefoot Landing and brought me back my favorite kind of fudge (peanut butter.) One day my other roommate knew I was having a hard day and offered to get me a coffee while I was doing homework. We can do little things to show people that we care and are thinking of them.
I decided to ask some of my friends the nicest random act of kindness anyone has ever done for them. This is what they had to say:
Genevieve Pietrzak worked in the mall one day and discussed the best ice cream flavors with her coworker. Some customers came in and joined in on the conversation. Gen didn’t think anything of it after they left. The customers returned shortly after to give Gen and her coworker milkshakes of their favorite flavors! It was a random act of kindness that Gen still thinks about and appreciates to this day. Those customers probably aren’t even aware of the lasting impact they made on Gen and her view of others.
Ella McDonald’s best friend took off work to spend time with her when she was having a hard time. It is heart-warming that her friend would do that for her in her time of need.
Another random act of kindness that stands out to me in my life was when I was working at Cracker Barrel during Thanksgiving. I had to work a double and couldn’t be with my family, who lived two hours away. I had a customer who came in by himself and was visibly having a hard day. I made conversation with him as I do with everyone else, and I think I raised his spirits. He ordered a Thanksgiving meal to-go. When he stood up to leave, he explained that he bought the to-go order for me to still enjoy a Thanksgiving meal even though I was away from my family. This man was having a visibly hard day and still went out of his way to make me feel better about my situation. I think we both brightened each other’s day.
You can join in on this compassionate day by being kind to those around you even more than you usually would. You can buy someone a coffee, open the door for someone, give out compliments, or help someone with a task. Thoughtful, compassionate actions can mean the world to others and stand out to them for the rest of their lives as an example of the good in people. Don’t stop after the day is over, continue to take notice of the small things you can do for others and the world will be a brighter place.
Random Acts of Kindness Organization. (2021). Explore The Good. Retrieved from Random Acts of Kindness | Random Acts of Kindness Day 2021
Paulina Firozi. (2014). 378 people ‘pay it forward’ at Starbucks. Retrieved from 378 people ‘pay it forward’ at Starbucks (usatoday.com)
Thanks to Genevieve Pietrzak and Ella McDonald for examples of random acts of kindness!