Last year my family went on a KindnessQuest, an amazing adventure chalk-full of random acts of kindness. It made our vacation-roadtrip into something more, something others-centered. Yet to succeed, we had to begin doing things differently to overcome these seven things keeping most of us from practicing random acts of kindness. (These are also the same reasons we normally don’t receive them).
Although I designed a bright and beautiful two-sided printable, 45 Random Acts of Kindness, to give you easy ideas, my guess is that 50% of you who who pick up your free copy won’t do even one of them. Nada. Zilch.
That sounds terrible, mean even–as if I don’t even believe in you! I believe you can. But just like we had to on our KindnessQuest, you will really have to commit to practicing random acts of kindness. And I am not sure you want to yet.
What Do We Have Going For Us?
You see, most of us want to be kind. We hope to do good things. We want people to smile, know they are seen, loved, valuable. We desire to connect with other humans. But just because we want those things and love hearing about them doesn’t mean we do them. What we usually aren’t missing is the lack of desire. We’ve got that going for us!
The Seven Things Keeping Us From Committing
But to do random acts of kindness, we have to overcome some barriers:
I am sorry you didn’t want me to mention this blaring fact, but most of us aren’t in-tune to those around us because we are so focused on our own lives. Therefore, should we really be surprised that we don’t receive many acts of kindness ourselves when so few people are others-centered? (Let alone others centered in a pure way with healthy boundaries? Even rarer!)
2.) Lack of Margin
I mention this a lot, but lack of margin is the primary reason most people don’t make the difference in the world they want to make. But we can’t just play victim all the time to our busy lives, in-debt status, or energy drained-selves. Sure, some of this we can’t help. But these are all areas we can become proactive in creating margin in (if you aren’t sure how to do that, that’s why I guide people through Life Mapping!).
3.) We Don’t Live Intentionally
This goes with Life Mapping, but it shouldn’t surprise you either to know that unless you choose in advance what direction your life is going to go in, everything else will sway you off-course. To do the KindnessQuest we had to plan and commit to doing random acts of Kindness through the whole trip. Unless we were intentional (like stopping to get peanut butter and jelly for the next day’s sandwich give-out) we would have failed (well, we still didn’t meet our goal on plenty of days, but for many more we succeeded!).
Oh, and don’t worry, I have a whole post coming about how to make a plan to do random acts of kindness intentionally!
Fear might be the first hindrance that comes to your mind of things keeping us from practicing random acts of kindness, but I wanted you to see it near not living intentionally. Why? Living intentionally is a solution to overcoming this type of fear and act bravely. The fear of doing something different, be perceived as strange, or be rejected doesn’t necessarily ever go away. Intentionality and commitment is part of the solution. You Do kindness scared.
I’ve chickened out a few times myself, especially passing out kindness cards at the renown Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, only getting back into the groove because my kids pulled me back into it. A partner in crime (spouse, housemate, kids, etc…) really can help!
5.) We Procrastinate
Procrastination is something we often do because we are either afraid or because we forget. These are things we overcome with intentionality (commitment & plan) as well as accountability. (If you need accountability, as always, just let me know! I’ll ask you about it!) But other reason we might procrastinate is because we want to do it with perfection. Sometimes great is the enemy of good, though. If you want to check all 45 Random Acts of Kindness of this list, you might never start. And this leads us to the last thing that keeps us from practicing random acts of kindness:
6.) We Minimize Our Potential Impact
The seventh reason most people won’t do any of the 45 Random Acts of Kindness is because we don’t think just doing a little bit is worth it. Maybe we feel overwhelmed with all of the ideas, and it makes it hard to see value in doing just one of them.
But what if you did just do one of them? Why do we feel shame in doing something free, something small, or something that only takes three minutes? Sure, we have to be intentional to do more, but something beats zero every time. If our goal is simply to help people know they are seen, valued, and bring them a smile, that is significant enough.
7.) Kindness is Not In Our Character
Lastly, we don’t practice random acts of kindness because we might not actually be kind. Ouch. Kindness is first and foremost a character trait. This might be obvious once I state it, but if you haven’t developed it, it isn’t going to show its face on its own.
On a positive note, simply by practicing kindness, you begin developing this world-changing character trait. However, I will warn you, that you can try as hard as you can to produce a desire within you to “be kind,” but it won’t be your second nature unless you allow a space for LIFE itself to take root and grow within you on the inside. It comes from the inside, out. (If you want to know more about how I do this, feel free to message me.)
A principle we embrace at Average Advocate is that although we might want to make the difference in the world we are born to make, it cannot be done sustainably without being who we are meant to be first. Being kind falls into this category.
What’s Your Choice?
Now that you have these seven things spelled out clearly for you, what are your options to respond to this?
1.) You can decide to do acts of kindness by choosing to be others-focused, creating margin, living intentionally, doing them scared, stop putting them off, valuing the small start, and developing the trait of kindness.
(And I dare say, you will feel good about making someone smile afterwards!)
Or. . .
2.) You can change nothing in your life, a be discontent as you hear other’s stories of connection and kindness.
You have the choice to decide if you will practice acts of kindness, overcoming those seven things, or not. But if you don’t, you might leave a little hole in the world where your brightness could have meant the world to someone, and through that, become more aligned with who you were meant to be and changed the world a little bit. And I am not sure that is worth the cost.
If you choose to begin practicing acts of kindness, be sure to get your copy 45 Random Acts of Kindness to make it easy and then share this post with the friend you want to hold you accountable to doing them!
You can get your 45 Random Acts of Kindness printable here.