"Kindness" is not a word that easily comes to mind in these troubled days. Yet it is all around us. Every day, beyond the glare of publicity and the antics of hungry attention seekers, ordinary folk are helping others in thousands of different acts of kindness.
Their deeds may be small in stature but each one of them makes life better for someone else. Sometimes, though, we pass by an opportunity to help another, not out of meanness or lack of concern. We're just too busy, in too much of a hurry, to notice or think about it.
But this month, as in every August for the past 31 years, there's a chance to put that right and to focus our minds on helping others.
Be Kind to Humankind Week, which runs from August 25 to 31, encourages us all to think about what we can do for someone else without thought of reward of recognition.
It was founded in 1988 by New Jerseyan Lorraine Jara after a boating accident in which a young man lost his life when passersby refused to help. Since then, it has grown into a nationwide, potentially global, event that every one of us can participate in.
"People Need to Change"
Although there are a number of organized events to mark this celebration of human kindness, most activities happen behind the scenes in everyday scenarios of help and courtesy to others.
Says Lorraine: "People need people; it’s as simple as that! In order to have the power to make the world a better place, we must first change our attitudes for the better. We can create our own good news if we choose to do so!"
Many celebrities, political leaders and other VIPs have recognized and support the project but, in the end, it's down to each one of us to put our spirit of friendship and good citizenship into practice.
So, what can you do?
Each day of Be Kind to Humankind Week has a theme that's aimed at inspiring us to think. Here's the rundown for 2019, with ideas for how you can help:
Sunday : Sacrifice our Wants for Others' Needs.
- Pick up groceries for someone who can't go to the store
- Take someone confined to a wheelchair for a trip
- Visit an elderly relative or take them on a trip
- Spend the afternoon with your kids or visit sick children in hospital
- Donate money you were planning to spend on yourself to charity
Monday: Motorist Consideration Day
- Don't tailgate or drive aggressively
- Don’t drink and drive
- Yield to pedestrians whether they have right of way or not
- Show courtesy by allowing someone into your driving lane
- Obey the law: No speeding, texting, drinking and driving
Tuesday: Touch a Heart
- Tell those you love, "I love you"
- Send an uplifting card to someone who's down in the dumps
- Be a good listener. Don't voice your own opinions, listen to others
- Make a meal or pot of soup for someone who's sick
- Thank and compliment others whenever you get the chance
- Check in on an elderly relative to say hi
Wednesday: Be Willing to Lend a Hand
- Offer to help a neighbor, family or friend with a chore
- Ask others how you can help them without them needing to ask you
- Volunteer for community projects, committing to at least an hour of your time
- Cut coupons out of flyers and place them with the products they advertise
Thursday: Be Thoughtful
- Set aside your own needs and plans in favor of others' needs
- Cook your family a favorite meal
- Hold doors open for people behind you
- Give up your train or bus seat to someone who needs it more
- Remember you Ps and Qs -- say "please" and "thank you"
- Drop some money into a tip jar to let servers know you appreciate them
Friday: Forgive your Foe
- Forgive someone you've been holding a grudge against
- Be the first to make a move towards reconciliation
- Remember to forgive yourself for past mistakes and things you regret
- Practice forgiving thoughts rather than angry ones
- Make quiet time to connect to your feelings and allow them to burn away bitterness
Saturday : Speak Kind Words
- Teach your children to speak kind words to others by setting an example
- Start a conversation with someone in line or in an elevator
- Bite your tongue before you allow an unkind comment to flow out
- Don't involve yourself in gossip, whether at work, school, at home or in the community
- If you don’t have something good to say about someone, don't say anything at all
- Leave an encouraging note in a public place or post a sign in your front yard
Of course, these are just a handful of suggestions -- there must be hundreds more -- and you don’t have to wait for a particular day to put them into practice. Nor should you confine your kindness to just those seven days.
The idea is to put kindness to others at the top of your agenda -- not just during this Be Kind to Humankind Week.
Make it a Habit
The organizers also encourage us to share our experiences with kindness on websites, blogs and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag #bk2hk And to learn more about this special week, visit http://bk2hk.org
Also, if you have any ideas or suggestions you want to pass along to others via the campaign, write to the founder at lorraine@bekindweek.
Research shows us that acts of kindness, like other types of generosity, not only help the person we're assisting. They also give the giver a psychological boost. You feel good about what you've done.
It's a classic win-win situation!
And once you get into the habit of being kind to others, you'll begin to do it without thinking about it. And your generosity will be repaid, perhaps in a quite different way.
As the late Princess Diana once said: "Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."