As well as Valentine's day and Chinese new year, the second week of February is host to Random acts of Kindness day. Established by the random acts of kindness foundation to 'make kindness the new norm'.
After the tumultuous year we have all just experienced and the uncertainty that lies ahead, we wanted to use random acts of kindness day as an opportunity to reflect on kindness, what it means and how it has been shown over the past year, because lord knows we all need a little bit of it at the moment.
Since the pandemic started, individuals have been struck by the kindness of strangers. This has happened quite organically it seems, as a response to one of the most challenging and life altering events many of us will have experienced in our lifetimes. People have reported having gifts left on doorsteps. One person made hundreds of mini flags with messages of kindness on them and placed them around his city.
A mother and daughter dynamic duo spent the pandemic leaving gifts of crochet decorations and cheerful messages around their local area for others to discover. There have been countless other examples of similar gestures.
At a time when we have a media that seems to thrive on highlighting how divisive and polarised we've become, Covid Britain has seen huge outpourings of camaraderie and compassion. We seem to have gained a shared sense of responsibility towards each other with terms like 'checking in' and 'reaching out', gaining fresh currency.
This past year has forced many of us to take a step back and examine what's really important. Random acts of kindness encourage further acts of kindness and can have a huge impact, especially during lockdowns when the small and insignificant can suddenly feel extraordinary.
We are currently obliged to cease physical contact and close proximity for our own safety, we have increasingly become spectators, unable to interact with our environments. We have temporarily lost something so intrinsic to our humanity, it can leave us feeling dislodged and adrift. In this climate, random acts of kindness can feel profound, like a piece of our humanity has been restored.
Kindness is linked inextricably to happiness and contentment—at both psychological and spiritual levels. (1) In a recent report, Remembering the Kindness of Strangers, participants felt that COVID-19 had changed the way that people interact with each other. In discussion groups, people talked about this new-found community spirit, about getting to know neighbours better and acts of kindness from strangers.
Participants wanted the new-found community spirit and kindness toward strangers to continue as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis. (2) 'COVID-19 has caused unimaginable hardship and suffering. Many of us have lost loved ones, or are struggling with loneliness, uncertainty about the future or the loss of a job'.
For many of us, random acts of kindness have provided an outlet. They can take the form of an unexpected gift, a helpful gesture or simply kind words of acknowledgement and support. These actions allow us to find unique and creative ways to connect and reinforce a desperately needed sense of unity.
(1) Psychology Today- Why random acts of kindness matter for your well-being
(2) British Futures.org- Remembering the Kindness of strangers