It’s been said: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Though the quote is a bit cliche in the sense that you’ve definitely read it as someone’s Instagram caption or on a plaque in HomeGoods, the sentiment isn’t false.
Just like another cliche you’ve definitely heard: “it costs nothing to be kind” — we can choose to be kind each day. It’s something so simple yet can often be taken for granted.
It is this kindness that connects us across every nation according to the World Kindness Movement (WKM) which established World Kindness Day in 1998.
This day, dedicated to “highlighting good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us,” according to the WKM website. It’s celebrated on Nov. 13 each year.
During this day, individuals around the world perform small acts of kindness for friends, families or strangers, celebrate the good deeds done by others and officially pledge kindness either as individuals or as an organization.
WKM hopes that through their work and World Kindness Day, all individuals can be inspired towards a greater goodwill that can connect nations and create a kinder planet.
The movement was founded in 1997 during a conference in Tokyo of like-minded kindness organizations from different countries. It is now an international registered not-for-profit organization. Representatives of WKM can be found in over 27 nations making it recognized as the “peak global body for kindness” according to the WKM website.
Large scale celebrations of kindness have broken out on Nov. 13 across the world as a result of WKM’s efforts and the institution of the international day. For example, one year, the Singapore Kindness movement gave out 30,000 Gerberas and once, World Kindness Australia organized a giant “kindness hug” on Bondi Beach in Sydney.
Acts of kindness are limitless and don’t have to be reserved for one day.
According to Kindness UK, acts of kindness can be made for our environment by doing something as simple as turning off the tap water while brushing your teeth or committing to an environmental project such as composting or establishing a community garden.
They can be made in nature by planting a range of species to support wildlife when gardening. Acts of kindness can be made for animals by donating to shelters or adopting from shelters.
Donating to or spreading awareness about an important cause, volunteering for an organization and committing to community service are all acts of kindness.
There is nothing quite like spreading kindness directly to someone else.
Giving someone a compliment is such an easy way to potentially make someone’s day. Offer to make dinner for a friend. Just lend a listening ear to someone who’s having a bad day. Write an appreciative message for a friend or loved one. Let someone go in front of you in line. If someone in class seems to be struggling with an assignment or task, ask if you can help. Express to someone you love, why and how much you love them, it doesn’t have to be reserved for a special occasion.
Spreading kindness does not only leave an impact on others, but ourselves as well.
Doing an act of kindness releases serotonin and endorphins. It can be great for self-esteem, improve empathy, compassion and improve your overall mood. It can reduce stress and anxiety. It can connect you to others. There’s also been links between helping others and having a longer lifespan.
This World Kindness Day, don’t forget to also be kind to yourself.
As we get closer and closer to finals, the buildup of assignments, outside stressors plus the effect of shorter and colder days, it may be easy to forget to give yourself a break too.
Practice kindness for yourself, the community and others. Even if it may seem small, every contribution is one step closer to the WKM’s dream of a kinder, more connected planet.