Forget about random acts of kindness, be intentional

Acts of kindness call for intentionality

We often hear about “random acts of kindness.” In fact, they’re encouraged. We at Character Lives promote the idea as well. But if we truly want to fill our world with these so-called random acts of kindness, we really must begin with intentional acts of kindness.

Being intentional about kindness gives us a chance to practice the activities that will turn kindness into a habit — anywhere and everywhere we go. If you’re familiar with us at all, you know we’re all about practicing to build new, healthy habits that will create kinder, gentler communities all around us.

Take the 12-day kindness challenge

To that end, we have a new kind of challenge for you. This challenge focuses on kindness, perhaps the most fundamental of character essentials. The challenge is to complete one of the following intentional acts of kindness every day for the next 12 days. It’s fine (even better) to repeat the same challenges multiple times during the 12 days ahead, but the goal is to complete everything on the list.

At the end of the challenge, reflect on your actions and how they affected your sense of happiness and well-being. Did you learn anything about yourself? About others? Choose one word to describe the experience and share it in the comments below.

Day 1: Pay for coffee or drink for person behind you.

Buy a soft drink or coffee today for the person behind you in line. You just might make their day!

Day 2: Pay a genuine compliment.

Give genuine compliments to five people you notice throughout the day. This should be a mixture of friends and strangers. Look for people picking up trash or holding the door open and thank them for their thoughtfulness. Look for some unique style or clothing. Observe how your lunch server or bus driver interacts with you.


Day 3: Let another driver merge into your lane.

Whenever you are merging (walking, biking, driving) with others, let at least one person go before you.


Day 4: Send a thank you note.

Write an anonymous note to a teacher, staff member or colleague at your school or workplace. Thank them specifically for the work they do, but don’t make it obvious who it is from.


Day 5: Hold the door open for someone.

Hold the door open for someone who’s pushing a stroller or has their hands full. Better still, do it for everyone entering or exiting at the same time you are … just for the kindness of it.


Day 6: Gather clothes you no longer wear and puzzles or games you don’t play anymore and donate them.

You’ll get rid of clutter in your in your closets and give new life to items you no longer need. Best of all, you’ll be giving someone else an opportunity to put their best foot forward.


Day 7: Volunteer at a local shelter or meal program.

Volunteering to help people in need isn’t just a kind thing to do, it also gives you purpose, meet new people and maybe even pick up a new skill or two.


Day 8: Leave extra money in the vending machine.

Put a dollar in the vending machine and don’t buy anything. Just walk away knowing that someone lucky is going to be enjoying a snack for the wonderful price of free.


Day 9: Donate blood.

In less than one hour, you can literally help save someone’s life. If you’re able to give, make sure to do it as part of this 12-day challenge.


Day 10: Run an errand or take a meal to a new mom or sick friend.

Few things say you care better than a meal for a person or family who could really use a little help.


Day 11: Help an elderly neighbor.

Something as simple as helping an older person load groceries into their car, mowing their lawn or — dare we say it — shovel snow from sidewalks may well mean more to them than you’ll never know…well, until you’re 80, too.


Day 12: Leave sticky notes.

Write 10 Post-it notes with your favorite uplifting quotes or lyrics and post them on walls, mirrors or desks around your school or workplace. A good quote or song lyric can sometimes be a huge pick-me-up for someone having a bad day. It’s also fun to share the things that inspire you with other people. You never know how important those simple words will be to them!


Begin practicing intentional acts of kindness today.

As you conclude the challenge, don’t forget to choose one word to describe the experience and share it in the comments below. You may be surprised to see what people say. In the meantime, here’s to kindness everywhere!