A simple act of kindness can brighten someone’s day. It can be what that person remembers about the day or what that person talks about. More often than not, it will inspire a person to act, to carry forward the beauty of that moment. One simple act can create a chain reaction of shared acts of kindness — that is what this book is all about. Inspiring others to act begins with doing for others. Positive connections with people have a direct impact on how we feel about ourselves. Sharing that feeling with others creates a wonderful spirit and enthusiasm that is both contagious and powerful.
Because kindness has no age restriction we wrote a second book, “Inspire to Act for Kids.” In this book, we show the habit of living with an “attitude of gratitude” starts with family and is behavior that can be taught to children. The book is filled with real life experiences written by children in their own words. When kindness is taught by parents, children have a natural inclination to be kind to one another, and we know once other kids read these stories they will be inspired to act kindly too.
In 2008, we decided to change our holiday gift‐giving theme and do something different for our team. We called it “random acts of kindness.” We kicked it off by asking our team a question: If you had $100 to give away to someone else, what could you do with it in order to make a difference in the life of another person?
We gathered our entire staff in our cafeteria space and presented each person with an envelope. The room was buzzing with anticipation as everyone opened their envelopes. Inside they found a letter and a $100 bill. The letter included a request to perform a random act of kindness before the date of our holiday party and instructions on how to go about it. The rules were simple: find a person or people whom you don’t know, and use this money to make a difference in their lives. And one more thing — at the company holiday party, you will be asked to share your random act of kindness with your teammates.
Each team member left the room excited and energized with thoughts of what he or she could do. In the following days, we heard the conversations in the hallway as the team shared ideas. The excitement was building.
Each team member viewed the assignment differently and completed it in his or her own way and with a specific purpose in mind. Lives were touched, differences made. Wow! The stories our team shared at our holiday celebration were simply amazing. Here are a few examples as told by our team members:
“You can observe a lot just by watching.” — Yogi Berra
People present opportunities for kindness every day. It is so easy to become absorbed in the complexities of our work, family and social issues that we lose ourselves in a narrow focus. The job, the kids’ activities, the “to do lists,” the latest email, tomorrow’s tough meeting — despite it all, the world continues to spin in the present, bringing with it opportunities to make a difference.
Being present and sharpening your senses in search of opportunities for random acts of kindness can be a life‐changing experience. It puts you much more in the moment because you are tuned in to the people around you — looking, listening, sensing emotion and appreciating interaction in ways you may not be used to. It makes it easy to discover opportunities for random acts of kindness among the people we encounter every day.
Having some money to conduct your random act of kindness is great, but the joy, goodwill and ripple effects you can create by doing random acts of service are just as valuable. Offering our time, expertise or tools, or even just a hand to hold, are all ways we can give for free that deliver immense value.
Looking for opportunities to put kindness front and center in your life can lead to some of the simplest and most powerful acts of kindness imaginable. It would be easy to underestimate them and say, “Well, anyone would do that.” But it’s not just a question of doing the right thing when the obvious course is placed before you. Random acts of kindness are all about intention and habit, about being on the lookout all the time for even the simplest actions.
A cynic might say, “So you helped an old lady across the street; what do you want, a medal?” But these actions add up. They become a bank of goodwill in the universe. And even when you think they are not observed, they inspire others to act, and that is the gift that keeps on giving — an exponential impact that is almost impossible to measure.
from “Inspire to Act for Kids”
A few summers ago, when I was in 6th grade, 3 of my friends and I started a lemonade stand to raise money for leukemia, a form of blood cancer commonly found in young children. We sold lemonade, desserts, and even bracelets that we made. We hung up posters around our town spreading the word, and invited people from our school to stop by.
Many people appreciated the cause and donated without even buying anything. We ended up raising a few hundred dollars that we sent to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We got a letter of thanks from the Society, and it felt great to know we had helped people going through a painful time.
Maeve, age 13
When you become Inspired to Act, you touch a life and sometimes, you inspire others to act as well. Imagine what would happen if there was an outbreak of random acts of kindness in the world: the workplace, at school, in the community and even at home…what impact can you make? Here’s what some of readers have said…
What was really inspiring was the stories everyone told at Jen’s house, and the thought, care and creativity that each and every person put into where the money would go, how she was able to make an impact on a group or individual and what it meant to her personally.
Inspire to act...An easy read with a powerful return on your investment. This book sparks your inherent desire to act, gives actionable ideas to take those steps in doing kind acts and help others do the same. More importantly it reminds you of the value and importance a single random act of kindness can be to the recipient. The stories and observations are inspiring.
I realize that each and every act is special in its own way. Performing a Random Act of Kindness has reinforced that great reward can be achieved when we push ourselves beyond our comfort zone.