Being kind to others feels like a no-brainer, and research supports that instinct. Being kind doesn’t just feel good, it’s also good for your health. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, boost joyfulness, reduce pain, improve healing and increase acceptance by peers (otherwise known as popularity). Acts of kindness improve bonds and social relationships, and helps children to develop stronger friendships.
So as we move into 2019, we present you with the Kindness Challenge. The end of the year is a perfect time to get a kindness boost, with the holiday season of giving in full swing. But this type of exercise is great for any time of year, and it’s something the whole family can get in on. And while the new year provides a natural deadline and allows you to go into a fresh start with a big happiness boost, you can run this challenge anytime you’d like.
Acts of kindness don’t have to take time or money–the smallest acts are often the most impactful and sustainable over time, teaching great habits to our kids.
Before we get into the challenge, we’ve got a few resources that will help you discuss and promote kindness with your family. Check them out if you need some additional inspiration–they make a great gift or might inspire your random acts!
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids : This book makes the idea of acts of kindness into a simple, concrete concept: the idea that everyone carries a bucket. If you are kind, you fill their buckets and your own; unkind acts make you a “bucket dipper” and empty your bucket as well. This is great for preschool- and elementary school-aged children.
- Renegade Made Random Acts of Flowers Kit: If you’ve got a crafty kid, this is an awesome gift for them to kick off random acts of kindness. The kit comes with everything you need to create beautiful tissue flowers with tags on them asking the recipient to pass the kindness along–even a holder you can attach to a spot for people to find your flowers and a mask to “disguise” yourself while committing your act.
- Kindness Every Day: A Journal : Filled with writing prompts and inspirational quotes, this journal is great for older kids and adults alike who are working to make being kind a more intentional part of their lives.
- Love Bombs: These cards have appreciative sayings on them, like “I believe in you” or “I will always treasure the times we’ve had together.” Keep them on your desk to send out when the mood strikes you, or get inspired to make your own cards with this idea.
- Ripple Stone: To spread kindness, one thing you can do is quietly ask the recipient to pass it along. This ripple stone facilitates that, with the idea that you are creating a kindness ripple that will continue. Again, this is something you can get inspired by and DIY!
Now, on to the challenge! Let’s spread some kindness together. Here are our 10 acts of kindness, but you can also brainstorm your own acts as a family!
- Stop to lend a hand. Whether this is asking a mom juggling kids and bags if you can help load her trunk with groceries, entertaining a baby in a long line with a game of peek-a-boo or going out of your way to run an errand or take care of a task for family or friends, this act is about keeping your eyes open and finding ways you can help people in your surroundings.
- Spread some beauty. Buy or send flowers, make a card or picture or create another craft that someone you know will appreciate–just because. Hand it or send it to them with the message that you are thinking about and that you care about them.
- Double dinner. We all know a friend or family member who can use a break once in awhile, especially during the dinnertime rush. Next time you’re making a dish that travels well, double it and bring one to them to lighten their load. More the takeout type? Drop off an extra pizza on your way home. They’ll be delighted to skip a night of cooking.
- Send kind greetings to the troops. Make or buy extra cards to send to those serving our country. Many of them say these sincere letters of thanks are the most valuable packages they receive. A list of organizations you can send your cards to is here.
- Let a stranger go in front of you in line. Especially during the long holiday season checkout lines, this is a big one. Keep your eyes open. Is there a person with just a few items as compared to your cartload? An older person or a mom or dad with kids who might appreciate speeding through? Allow them to go ahead of you to shorten their wait–our greatest asset is our time.
- Send a kind note to someone. We rush through busy days without paying a lot of attention. Stop and think about someone who you admire or who’s helped you–a teacher, parent, family member, friend or child. Write them a note and tell them how you feel. They can keep the note and read it again on a rough day.
- Clean up. Pick up litter or clean up in your favorite park or public space. Or, rake leaves or shovel snow for a neighbor or friend.
- Pay it forward. Cover the cost of a bill for someone, whether it’s a cup of coffee, lunch at a restaurant, a grocery order or a utility bill for someone who’s fallen on tougher times. This can be done on nearly any budget, and encouraging your kids to put money from their personal stash towards the cause can show them the impact of charity.
- Be kind to siblings, family members or friends. Encourage your family to surprise one another by helping out with day to day tasks. Examples include helping mom or dad with a chore or an older sibling participating in a younger sibling’s game (that they may think is “babyish”). This is a great chance to bring kindness into the family.
- Go shopping for someone else. Post-holiday sales can be a perfect time to pick up items that shelters or other organizations might need throughout the year, and a chance to teach kids about giving back. Encourage them to shop sales to maximize their budget and perhaps even use some of their holiday gift cards or money to participate. Donate it together so they see where it goes.
For more ideas on adding kindness into your life, check out my forthcoming book, 52 Small Changes for the Family.