A World Apart, A Path Forward: The Power of Random Acts of Kindness in a Divided Era

Random Acts of Kindness

Grant Ian Gamble is a best-selling mindful leadership author and speaker. He has over 30 years of experience in leading teams to create innovative customer experiences, building engaged workforces, and developing leaders who prioritize mindfulness in their approach.

“Random Acts of Kindness” became a phenomenon in the 1980’s and ‘90’s, but with the increasingly frantic pace of our lives, its true practice seems to have fizzled in recent decades. I loved the idea of it and saw occasional examples; there is even a Random Acts of Kindness Day in February but how powerful would it be if we adopted Random Acts of Kindness as a daily practice?

I always thought that the idea of randomly extending a kindness to a stranger was a wonderful gesture. When I was in the Australian Boy Scouts, there was a philosophy called “A good deed a day” and when I was a Boy Scout Leader in the U.S. it was, “Do a good turn daily”. This mantra was underwritten by the Scout promise which included “A Scout is helpful,” “A Scout is friendly,” and “A Scout is kind.” These principles inherently encourage Scouts to perform acts of kindness and service as part of their daily lives.

I think at some point this became a part of my every day and I appreciate the Scouting movement being a catalyst for this positive focus.

My premise herein is that if everyone did a daily good deed for another, a random act of kindness, if you will, how might the world turn?

Never in all of human history have we seen the division and seemingly intractable conflicts we experience in today’s modern world. Picking sides seems to be the norm, and working together seems to be the exception. This division is endemic in politics and amplified in the media. It echoes through most facets of our lives. 

I contend that amidst the conflict and division we live in, a simple act of kindness can be a beacon of hope. 

I believe that routinely extending kindness to others will lead to a more compassionate and harmonious society. If this was threaded through the political system, underwritten in the corporate world and amplified in the media, we would see a palpable shift away from the contentious and divided rhetoric toward a more forgiving and inclusive society.

Kindness is more than just a polite gesture; it’s a profound expression of empathy, compassion, and goodwill towards others. And Lao Tzu wisely stated,

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” 

Simply treating all individuals with respect and dignity is an act of kindness. When we move beyond our biases to transcend the barriers between us, we are imbibing the essence of kindness.

This may all sound a little utopian, but I would argue that consciously extending an act of kindness to another on a daily basis will create a habit which will have deep and profound implications over time.

An example I would give is the walks my wife and I go on with our dogs. We walk along the riverfront near our home every morning, and pass other people walking routinely as well. When we moved into this neighborhood we started saying “Hello!” to these random strangers. We were initially greeted with consternation and surprise, but over time people started to acknowledge us back. What’s more, many of the people we see regularly look forward to the friendly interaction.

And maybe this is confirmation bias, but I truly believe we started to see others acknowledging each other as time progressed.

This is just a simple example of how you can integrate an act of kindness into your day, without having to even go out of your way.

Beyond the extrinsic potential of these acts of kindness there are intrinsic benefits for you. For example:

  • Enhanced Well-being: Research has shown that acts of kindness trigger the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone.” This hormone not only promotes feelings of bonding but also reduces stress and anxiety, contributing to overall well-being.
  • Improved Mental Health: Engaging in acts of kindness has been linked to increased levels of happiness and life satisfaction. When you extend kindness to others, you also tend to experience a boost in your own mood and mental health.

There are also some compelling domino effects that come with a concerted focus on extending kindnesses to others. These include:

  • Stronger Communities: Kindness fosters a sense of unity and belonging. When individuals and communities come together to support one another, they build stronger social bonds and a more resilient society.
  • Positive Ripple Effect: Kindness is contagious. When you show kindness to someone, they are more likely to pay it forward, creating a ripple effect of positivity that can touch countless lives.
  • Reduction in Prejudice: Kindness and empathy are essential tools in combating prejudice and discrimination. By treating all individuals with kindness, we challenge stereotypes and promote inclusivity.

Simply put, kindness is a message that transcends boundaries and brings people together. Mark Twain once declared,

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

It is a force for good that has the potential to transform our world.

In your journey remember that kindness is a tool you can wield with incredible impact. By embodying kindness and spreading it to others, you are actively contributing to a more compassionate and harmonious world. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi,

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” 

Let’s continue to advocate for kindness and promote its profound benefits, not just through words, but through our actions as well. Together, we can create a world where kindness reigns supreme, and positivity knows no bounds.

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” – Unknown

Please share examples of acts of kindness you have witnessed or given. It may plant some positive seeds for others.

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