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Here’s How You Can Celebrate National Random Acts of Kindness Day

Six simple ways to be kind to others—and yourself—today.

National Random Acts of Kindness Day may have originated in New Zealand back in 2004 but it quickly made its way around the globe, and is now celebrated in multiple countries on February 17 every year. It’s a day that reminds us to slow down and do something kind for the people around us, including strangers. It’s impossible to know what the people around you—on a bus, at a grocery store, even in your own office—are going through or struggling with, and sometimes the smallest gesture can help turn a person’s day around. Read on for six simple ways to celebrate this day of kindness.

Pay it forward
Picking up a cup of joe at a cafe on your way in to work? Pay the tab for the person behind you in line. Hopefully, this will encourage them to do the same, kicking off a chain reaction that continues through the day. It’s a small gesture but if it brings a smile to the face of every person who visits the cafe after you, it’ll have a big impact.

Donate to a cause close to your heart
Feel passionately about the environment? Animal rights? Civil liberties? Donate whatever you can afford to a charity or cause that you believe in. Just a $15 donation to the UN’s World Food Programme, for example, could provide a month’s supply of food to a hungry child. If you’d rather volunteer your time instead of money, that works too. Visit a local animal shelter or spend time at a nursing home in your area to spread some cheer.

Buy a conscious product
Support a brand whose value system aligns with yours. Canadian cruelty-free beauty brand Evio, for instance, just announced “its mission to carry out 20,000 acts of kindness in 2020,” which range from hosting community events to running a buy-one-donate-one program that donates skincare products to people living in poverty. “I learned first hand the importance, and the impact, that someone’s kindness can have while I was living in a women’s shelter and founded the concept for Evio. Random acts of kindness from strangers changed my life,” says founder Brandi Leifso.

Send a thank you note
Whether it’s to an encouraging mentor, a childhood teacher or a close friend, send a thank you note (via email or a handwritten letter) to someone who’s made a difference in your life. Knowing that they had a positive impact on someone’s life is just about the best gift a person can receive.

Buy a treat for your co-workers
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of the 9 to 5. Bring some joy to your co-workers’ day by surprising them with some sweet treats. Whether it’s a box of mini doughnuts or a dozen cookies, it might be just the pick-me-up they need to brighten another day at the office.

Turn the kindness on yourself
Let’s face the facts: we are our own toughest critics. It’s easy to be self-critical, and much harder to take the path of self-compassion and self-care. As Psychology Today notes, “a wealth of research has shown the positive consequences of self-compassion on numerous aspects of our wellbeing, including a greater life satisfaction, emotional intelligence, interconnectedness with others, wisdom, curiosity, happiness and optimism.” So use this day as an opportunity to direct love and kindness towards yourself, not just to those around you, whether it’s by buying yourself flowers, treating yourself to your favourite pastry at your local cafe or letting go of that thing you’ve been kicking yourself about all week.

For more inspiring ways to spread the joy, check out Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, which celebrates Random Acts of Kindness Week from February 16 to 23 each year.