Last year I wrote a post about Growing Kindness in our Families and Classrooms, which focused on tips for creating an Acts of Kindness Calendar with children. In an effort to build upon this post, I have created both a set of Every Day Kindness Cards and Calendar to be used for both adults and children (of all ages). My intention is to support the effort of many to draw our attention to the value of continued cultivation of kindness.
We all have the capacity to be kind, and we see it in action when interacting with our friends and family. As our world feels increasingly divided and negativity abounds, we can pause and set a daily intention to engage in a deliberate act of kindness. There is growing research that shows the individual and communal effects of cultivating the habit of kindness. Here are a few resources sharing the science:
- Check out Kindlab to be inspired by research and to connect with other advocates of kindness.
- Watch The Science of Kindness, a 2:15 minute video from the Random Acts of Kindness organization.
- Read the article How to Be a Kindness Role Model for Your Kids by Dale V. Atkins & Amanda R. Salzhauer
- Read the article Why Kindness is the Answer to Workplace Woes by Jaclyn Lindsey
I know I am not alone in my belief that kindness needs to be valued more in our society. What we do not always consider is that kindness is a practice, one that is worthy of becoming a habit. For kindness to continue to seep into our psyche so that it becomes our “go to” response, we must make it a habit. This requires daily practice. As we purposely intend and practice responding to life with kindness, we experience a profound shift in our perspective. We begin to increase our sense of common humanity as we decrease our tendency to engage in “othering” (for deeper exploration on this term check out Tara Brach’s talk & the article The Problem of Othering: Towards Inclusiveness and Belonging). The invisible walls that separate us fall away and we begin to see the basic goodness of those around us in spite of our disagreements. We begin to feel many positive emotions such as joy, contentment, and resiliency. As this wall fades away and our kindness guides our behavior, we are better able to connect, communicate, and create a peaceful society.
While it may seem impossible for a card deck or a calendar to change society, micro acts of kindness do have ripple effects. Try it out and see what happens. At the end of the day, we can sit quietly with ourselves, with our family or co-workers and share how it felt to engage in this act and what this experience revealed to us. One of my hopes through the use of these tools is for us to notice the multiple acts of kindness happening around us all the time, and giving voice to it. Hey, that was thoughtful of you to hold the elevator. I saw someone let a car move in front of them even though it may have slowed the driver down. Wow, that stranger’s face lit up when I look in her eyes and smiled as we passed on the street.
As we engage purposely in acts of kindness, we not only plant the ever so important seeds, we begin to see the flowers blooming. This not only fills us with hope, but feeds our motivation to continue to choose kindness, especially when we are feeling stressed, angry, frustrated (insert any negative emotion). Please share these tools with others. This is my act of kindness today, and may it inspire you, your family, your classroom or your workplace to grow a culture of kindness.
These tools can be used individually, as a family, in classrooms or after school program, and even in the workplace. Any day can be adapted to fit your specific life situation. These acts are merely suggestions. Choose a card from the deck in the morning or check the calendar. Make sure to share your experience with others, and be kind to yourself if you are unable to complete this act – take a moment to reflect on a way you were kind or if you saw someone act kindly.
The calendar can be downloaded as a Google Doc. For PDF click Every Day Kindness Calendar
Includes 28 acts with 2 blanks (total 30) for you to come up with your own. There are no dates and are not in any particular order, so these can be reused each month and chosen at random. The cards can be printed on paper and cut out, or you can print them on business cards using Avery product 8371.
If you would like me to print and send you a deck for free, please go to contact me and enter your address in the comment section. I ask that you share your experience with the cards in the comment section below.