The random acts of kindness revolution

There's a revolution going on. People are making a difference one random act of kindness at a time.

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  • Hidden cameras have confirmed it. There is a revolution going on. People are embracing their humanity and reaching out to others. They are following the golden rule and doing unto others as they would have others do unto them. They are remembering the Boy Scout motto to "Do a good turn daily." They are making a difference one small act of kindness at a time.

  • Stephen G. Post, PhD and author of the book "The Hidden Gifts of Helping," says that just thinking about helping someone has proven health benefits. The area of the brain associated with joy lights up, and feel-good chemicals such as dopamine are released. People who volunteer report feeling physically healthier, an improved sense of well-being and less stress.

  • What can we do to join the revolution? The video offers some suggestions.

  • Look for opportunities

  • In the video, there were several cars passing by while one person stopped to help someone in need. Does that mean that the people who passed by are bad people? Of course not. I suspect they probably didn't even notice the person in distress.

  • Too often, we become so engrossed in our own daily problems and difficulties that we cannot see the suffering of others. It is important to remind ourselves that everyone has their own burdens to bear, their own struggles, their own heartaches. We can choose to open our eyes and look for opportunities to show kindness to others.

  • At the beginning of each day, make a commitment to make a difference in someone's life. If you are religious, pray that you will be guided to someone who needs your kindness.

  • Show respect for our elders

    • Help an older person across the street.

    • Visit a home for the elderly.

    • Visit a widow or widower.

    • Mow your elderly neighbor's lawn.

    • Offer transportation to someone who can no longer drive.

    • Bring a new widow or widower meals.

    • Adopt a grandma or grandpa.

  • When I was a teenager, my youth group visited a nursing home. We each were introduced to someone who had no remaining family. I developed a wonderful relationship with Marjorie. Sometimes I would read to her. Other times, we would crochet together. Sometimes, we would just talk. I enjoyed getting to know her, and I believe it helped me forget about my teenage problems when I was with her.

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  • Show respect for all living creatures

    • Rescue a stray animal from the streets.

    • Help a lost animal find its home.

    • Buy food and supplies for a local animal shelter.

    • Offer to walk the dogs at a local animal shelter.

    • Set out bird feeders around your yard.

    • Build a bird house.

    • Report animal cruelty.

    • Clean up trash in local parks and preserves to improve natural habitats.

  • Love your neighbor

    • Next time you bake cookies, take the extras to your neighbor.

    • Collect goods for a food bank.

    • Call a friend and listen.

    • Write a thank-you note.

    • Donate warm coats, socks and boots to a homeless shelter.

    • Smile at everyone you meet.

    • Pay a compliment to someone.

    • Donate books to the library.

    • Give blood.

    • Scrape ice and snow off someone's car.

    • Pick up trash around your neighborhood.

    • Leave a treat for your mail delivery person.

    • Bring brownies to the police or fire station near your home.

    • Thank someone from the military.

    • Offer free babysitting to a stay-at-home mom.

    • Entertain a grumpy child in the check-out line at a grocery store.

    • Pay someone's check at a restaurant or fast-food establishment.

    • Bring your neighbor's trash bins up.

    • Open the door for someone.

    • Offer to carry someone's groceries to the car.

    • Pay for the person behind you at a movie theater.

    • Ask to speak to the manager at a restaurant and praise your server.

    • Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading their car.

    • Buy lunch for a homeless person.

    • Anonymously give to someone who is having financial difficulties.

    • Give flowers.

  • One little girl wanted to give flowers to people for her 5th birthday. Her mother bought a dozen roses, and then they waited in a grocery store parking lot. The little girl then gave a rose to people she felt could use one. Each person to whom she gave a rose was deeply touched. Some of them cried. One person said that was the nicest thing anyone had done for her. Another said she had been going through a rough time and needed such a pick-me-up. Many said that her small act had restored their faith in humanity. The little girl said it was her best birthday ever.

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  • Join the revolution. Go out and do something nice for someone today. Then, come back and share your stories with us here.

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Shelli Howells is a creative fiction writer, and a mother of six.

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