In a world where we are greatly separated from one another either by social distance or political divide, what does it mean to be kind? Wednesday, Feb. 17 is Random Acts of Kindness day, and a perfect opportunity to reflect on our capacity for kindness in the rest of 2021.
One of the ideals glorified in America is the idea of independence. While it can be good at times to acknowledge moments of independence, we tend to forget that no one is truly independent. In a million small and large ways every single day everyone relies on other people. A part of Random Acts of Kindness day is acknowledging the people we depend on and telling them we appreciate the difference they make in our life.
Small actions, like telling a roommate that you’re happy to be living with them and why, or calling your family and telling them you love them and thanking them for their support means a lot. Outside of friends and family, being kind to the people you interact with out in the world with simple actions such as putting away your grocery cart and thanking the people you meet in the grocery store does a small bit to make the world a better place.
We can think of all the people who depend on us and share our kindness with them as well. Ask a friend who has been struggling if they want to talk or do a socially distanced activity. Check up on grandparents and ask them about their week. Wear your mask in public and keep your distance to keep yourself and others safe. Be kind to the environment by recycling what you can and disposing of trash in the appropriate location. Take time out of your day to play with your pet a little longer than you normally would and give them a treat when you’re done. Tell your professors you appreciate the work they are doing to make online learning possible.
Be kind to yourself as well. Quarantine, the cold, work and school stress and a plethora of other things going on right now may be leaving some people physically and emotionally drained. That’s okay. People should take the time they need to take care of themselves first. Put on your own breathing mask before you help someone else with theirs.
People should take this day to do something special for themselves as well as others. Maybe they can splurge on that meal they really like or take an extra-long, relaxing bath. Maybe it means saying at a certain point that you are done with your work for the day and spending the evening relaxing or with friends.
Some people may not be in the mindset to be able to be kind to themselves, and that’s okay too. There are people around who can help, by being kind to you when you can’t be kind to yourself. Take advantage of things like the Redbirds Reach Out program to receive uplifting messages from someone in the Illinois State University community. Write down moments you see of other people acting kind to give you hope in the overall human capacity to be kind.
Whoever it is in your life who could use a batch of kindness, take this day to think of them, and choose to be kind.