An Experiment: Kindness is Happening

In 2012, I started a project called 500 Kindnesses. It was a “charity” bike ride that was sponsored by people pledging to do random acts of kindness which everyone can do instead of giving money which takes a bit of privilege to be able to do.

In my mind, its purpose was to encourage more people to be nice to others. I don’t know if it was successful in that sense, but I can verify that I learned a few things from this – some that I want to try applying here and in social media for the next little bit. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Lots of people are already doing acts of kindness all the time. It’s so common that often I would get pledges that said “I don’t know what special thing to do, but here’s something I do as a matter of course. Kindness is already a habit.
  2. As the project picked up steam, I would get several pledges a day each talking about someone somewhere doing something nice in the world. Friends would share news articles and anecdotes about good things happening in their life. As a result of that something remarkable happened. I became more hopeful, less cynical and learned how much good people really are doing in the world. I finished that project a much more positive person than I started it. How could I not? No matter what was happening in the world, I was getting a daily dose of small good news from around the world.
  3. There’s a paradox to kindness that’s tough to get around. When people don’t hear about nice things people are doing, they feel nice things aren’t happening and feel a bit more despair about the future. At the same time, nobody wants to talk about nice things they’re doing for fear it will come across as bragging or virtue signalling. They feel it might seem like they’re saying “Look at me and the great things I am doing!” After all, we’ve been told since childhood to be humble, don’t talk about yourself. So unless we witness something good happening to someone first hand we don’t have any idea it’s happening. During the 500 Kindnesses project this stopped many people from pledging as my original form was a canned contact form that asked for name, email and the act of kindness. Hardly anyone wanted to participate. I made a new form with just what the person did and a “submit” button. I’d get an email with the act of kindness and an IP address that I could use to figure out what city it came from.

So as we watch bad news happening all over the world, I ask that you take a minute whenever you do something good for another human to mention it in the form below. I’ll send out a weekly list on Sunday telling what good things were done where. If you hear about something good that happened in your area or even a good news story please share it and I’ll include it in the week’s update. (For some examples, have a look in my 50th Birthday post where several people shared acts of kindness they did.)

Fill in the form below:

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.