Random acts of kindness (RAK or RAoK) is a concept I adopted eons ago when I was still in college. Since, for me, this behavior is ongoing, I did not immediately include the idea in my Happiness Project roadmap nor my action steps.
I did envision mentioning the idea – as well as making it a theme – toward the end of my Happiness Project. Nonetheless, the whole notion has been in the forefront of my mind since the beginning of this project. I think of random acts of kindness almost – if not – daily.
They make me very happy because they bless others. I wholeheartedly believe in the truism: it is more blessed to give than to receive.
WARNING: before proceeding with this post, be admonished that RAK are highly addictive.
Random Acts of Kindness: The Concept
According to Wikipedia, the wording, as well as the concept, are credited to Anne Herbert of Sausalito, California. In 1982, she wrote on a placemat the phrase “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” An idea based on the following saying “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty.”
I have seen the definition of random acts of kindness stated thus: unpremeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world.
As a veteran RAKtivist (yes, that’s a word), I don’t entirely agree with this definition (found on Wikipedia). I consider it too short-sided.
A Better Definition
The proper definition of the word random is “without definite aim, direction, rule, or method. It doesn’t imply a lack of forethought” while the definition of unpremeditated is “not characterized by willful intent and forethought; not planned in advance; not premeditated”
You can get up in the morning and decide that you intend to do X as a RAK. From the point of decision to implementation, your RAK is technically no longer an unpremeditated act. However, it can still be random.
My preferred definition is this:
a selfless act – either spontaneous or planned in advance – performed by anyone to either help or cheer up a random stranger, for no reason other than to make people happier.
Random Acts of Kindness: Ideas
When I decided to write this post, I honestly struggled with the prospect of sharing some of my random acts of kindness. I have never done them for public recognition, and as a matter of fact, I much prefer anonymity. My only reason for divulging my RAK would be to share in my joy at the unexpected (in a good way) turn of events. As I write this, I am still quite unsure about my future course of action for the rest of this post. Nevertheless, let me proceed.
Free Random Acts of Kindness
- Give a hug.
- Tell your loved ones that you love them.
- Helps someone carry their groceries.
- Thank first responders as well as military personnel for their service.
- Help a frazzled friend with cleaning or laundry.
- Write a grateful heart post about someone on your Facebook list and tag them in it.
- Pay genuine compliments to people whether you know them or not.
- Call cashiers and waiters/waitresses by name (they do have a name tag or usually tell you their names).
- Avoid getting into mindless arguments on the internet (particularly social media.)
- When at lunch with a partner or some friends, turn your phone to silent and put it away. Give others your full attention.
- Donate old (but still in condition) clothes or other items.
- Send an email – or a snail mail letter – to someone who has meant something to you, i.e., a nurse, school teachers, etc.
- Compliment an employee to his or her boss. In general, people are far quicker at lodging a complaint.
- When driving, let someone into your lane.
- When ready to pay, let someone with very few items in their cart go before you.
- Talk to shy people at a party. Make sure you make someone on the fringe feel included.
- Leave old magazines or books for someone else to find (make sure to erase your name and address first).
- Help someone at a grocery store who has a hard time reaching for items or finding their way.
- Open and hold doors for others.
- Let someone sit in your place in the subway or the city bus.
- Help a mother with a stroller who is having a hard time.
- Clean your mess (that includes in nature).
- When on a walk, pick up discarded bottles on the ground and place them in the trash.
- Donate an old computer or laptop (even an old cell phone).
- Sincerely compliment your boss.
- Leave sticky notes around with kind words.
- Let someone in the parking space you wanted and park further.
- Write a kind comment on a blog you enjoy.
- Leave positive reviews on items you have bought and enjoyed.
- Help someone pack for a move.
- Help someone unpack after a move.
- Welcome a newcomer to your neighborhood.
- Help someone plant a garden.
- Mow someone’s lawn.
- Wash someone’s car.
- Reminisce with seniors or someone who is lonely.
- Invite someone who is alone to join you for the Holidays.
- After shopping place your cart back where it belongs, take a cart which does not belong to you back as well.
Other Random Acts of Kindness
- Bring a meal to a new mom, someone who is home from a hospital stay, a single person, a shut-in, an elderly person, etc.
- Bring donuts (or something healthier) to your place of work. Keep in mind the donuts probably will be a more significant hit than carrot sticks.
- Send a bouquet of flowers anonymously to someone who is lonely on Valentine’s Day or Mothers’ Day.
- Put a few coins into an expired meter.
- Give a lunch bag to a homeless person.
- Leave the biggest tip you can afford.
- Give a book to someone who you think will like it.
- Leave extra coins at the laundromat.
- Send someone you love a card in the mail or a letter telling them how much they mean to you.
- Give a security guard a cup of coffee.
- Make an extra lunch for a co-worker or a child at school.
- Bake a cake or some cookies to give away.
- Make a craft for someone, knit or crochet something.
- Give a few dollars for the car behind you at the drive-through.
- Buy groceries for someone and leave them anonymously.
- Send a gift card anonymously to someone.
- Pay for someone electric bill (or water).
Additional resources about Random Acts of Kindness: