Happiness in Retirement — Random Acts of Kindness

Random acts of kindness happen too infrequently but when a random act of kindness happens, it always brings a smile.

Wikipedia defines a random act of kindness as “a selfless act performed by a person or people wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual person or people.”

Random Acts of Kindness -- photo courtesy of Kidz Showing Kindness
Random Acts of Kindness — photo courtesy of Kidz Showing Kindness

Whether it is a tangible gift — like a stranger paying for coffee or handing you extra change for a parking meter, or someone holding a door open, a random act of kindness results in a link between two people.

During the past few days, as I watched TV coverage of devastating floods in the City of Calgary and in other Alberta communities, the kindness that strangers offered to each other struck me.

Emergency workers, soldiers, police and others rescued people and pets from homes.  People were in shock as they watched their own homes being destroyed but they stopped to help others.  Many who were safe on high ground opened their homes to accommodate strangers.

Now that flood waters are receding, neighbours are helping each other pump dirty water from basements. Others offer food and comfort as they clean debris left behind. People starting to rebuild their lives and their homes support each other.

Unanticipated Gestures

Most random acts of kindness are unanticipated.

These gestures of good will often come from strangers as happened in Calgary. Many times there is not even an opportunity to thank the person. 

Random acts of kindness also come from those close to you. The special smile your partner gives across a crowded room, the encouragement from a friend when you face a daunting task, the help from a colleague on a project that is foundering — these kind gestures often change the course of a day — yet go unrecognized.

 Communities Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness

In 2008, Debora Ritchie of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario along with The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation initiated the first Random Act of Kindness Day (RAK Day) in Canada.

A stranger’s kindness inspired Ritchie when she was offered a paid parking stub in a parking garage by a gentleman who was leaving.  He gave her a stub with time left on it.

Ritchie convinced the Community Foundation to work with her to have the City of Kitchener-Waterloo engage in Random Act of Kindness Day.  To mark the day, they print Random Act of Kindness cards which people pass along when they do a good deed.

There are now Random Act of Kindness days across Canada and in the United States. The principle of ‘paying it forward’ motives communities to hold Random Acts of Kindness days.

Paying it Forward

Paying it forward comes from a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  It is based on the idea that you should do 3 good deeds for others for every kindness shown to you.

Paying It Forward - photo courtesy of Gamma man
Paying It Forward – photo courtesy of Gamma man

Paying it forward celebrates the practice of helping one another and spreading generosity.

Interestingly, the people in Calgary and others who show kindness during emergencies and disasters did not wait for proclamation of a Random Acts of Kindness Day.  Nor were their actions based on a philosophy of paying it forward.

They acted because someone needed help and they were in a place to offer help.

These actions may not be formally recognized but both the ‘giver’ of kindness and the recipient are better people because of the action taken.

Increasing your Retirement Happiness through Kindness

Hopefully, most readers of this blog will never experience the devastation of an environmental or war disaster.  But awareness of Random Acts of Kindness increases retirement happiness.

We can begin by recognizing simple Random Acts of Kindness as they occur around us. When someone does a favour for you or compliments you or opens a door for you, there is simple kindness in such an action.

Acknowledge the kindness with a word of thanks and a smile. The benefactor may not expect any acknowledgement however the acknowledgement links you together in reciprocity.

Happiness will also increase as you make Random Acts of Kindness part of your day.

You get the pleasure of doing good deeds for others.  Everyone loves to receive something — especially an unexpected kindness or gift.

I’ve never had a stranger pay for my coffee but I’ve often been the recipient of Random Acts of Kindness.  As I walked along the beach this morning, s stranger walking his dog shouted a cheery ‘good morning’ over the roar of the wind and the lake.  Later, my neighbour stopped by for a morning chat. And this afternoon, I did a good deed by warning a hydro worker clad in shorts and venturing into brush near the cottage that some of the lovely green plants nearby were poison ivy.

Have you been inspired by a strangers’ generosity?  Do you believe in the concept of  ‘paying it forward’? How many Random Acts of Kindness have you received/given today?

Hopefully reading this post will inspire you to increase your retirement happiness by recognizing Random Acts of Kindness, acknowledging Random Acts of Kindness, and getting the pleasure of doing Random Acts of Kindness for others!

6 Replies to “Happiness in Retirement — Random Acts of Kindness”

  1. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is an internationally recognized non-profit organization founded upon the powerful belief in kindness and dedicated to providing resources and tools that encourage acts of kindness.

    1. Jeanette Lewis says: Reply

      Hello Agnes,
      Thanks for your comment and for noting this omission.
      In my research, I did look at The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. I referenced the foundation in Kitchener-Waterloo as it is geographically close to me.
      I should also have noted the exemplary work of this international organization which is much larger and better known.
      Be well,
      Jeanette

  2. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is an internationally recognized non-profit organization founded upon the powerful belief in kindness and dedicated to providing resources and tools that encourage acts of kindness.

    1. Jeanette Lewis says: Reply

      Hello Clayton,
      Thank you for your comment and for noting this omission. I reviewed The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation when doing the research for this post and should have referenced it. I chose the Foundation in Kitchener-Waterloo as it is geographically close to me and I have read reviews of their annual community event. Be well,
      Jeanette

  3. Teach kids about selflessness and helping others by encouraging random acts of kindness. By performing small tasks for others, they can feel good about themselves and know that they are bringing joy to other people. The positive lesson can be lasting for children, making an impact on the way they treat people throughout their lives.

    1. Jeanette Lewis says: Reply

      Great observation! Children benefit from positive lessons — and from the role models parents and elders provide. We can teach kindness by making it part of our daily lives.
      Be well,
      Jeanette

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