Random Acts of Kindness Day is right around the corner, on February 17th, in the U.S. It’s a day to celebrate and encourage random acts of kindness, spreading joy and positively impacting our loved ones, neighbors, community, and society.
While the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK) was founded in 1995, Random Acts of Kindness Day began in New Zealand in 2004. If you haven’t browsed The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s website, I highly encourage you to take a few minutes and read more about this incredible nonprofit (and maybe leave with a few ideas in mind for February 17th).
I love everything about Random Acts of Kindness Day and the premise of brightening someone’s day through small, seemingly random acts. I’ve also spent a significant amount of time thinking about how to be more intentional this year—intentional in my own life, with how I spend my time, and perhaps most importantly, in how I show up for others.
And it just so happens that Danielle Coke Balfour (or @ohhappydani on Instagram), in her recent book A Heart on Fire: 100 Meditations on Loving Your Neighbors Well, dives into the concept of bringing love to others with intentionality. Balfour’s messaging is powerful, and while intentionality sounds simple, it’s easy to overlook. (I highly recommend this book, by the way! If you’ve thought about it and haven’t snagged it yet, this is your sign.)
Here’s a look at A Heart on Fire and how you can apply intentionality to your random acts on Random Acts of Kindness Day. (Keep in mind, this primarily applies to people you know well and might not be as practical for strangers!)
A message on loving others intentionally
The first part of Balfour’s book is about love, one of the ten pillars of a life of good work. On page 15, Balfour writes:
“When aiming to bring love to someone else, maintaining a mindset of intentionality is both honoring and respectful. It involves taking another person’s wants and needs, not just doing what we think is best for them. An intentional person thinks, ‘I could send them groceries or find out if it’s best to send some prepared meals.’ Both are kind, thoughtful gestures, but a posture of intentionality asks us to seek out acts of love that best fit another’s situation.”
This perspective of a “posture of intentionality” forces us to pause and ask ourselves, “Is this truly what the other person needs now? Am I showing up for this person in the way I want to or the way they need me to?”
I love this example of weighing the option of sending groceries or prepared meals, as one will likely fit the receiver’s situation better. They might not have time to cook their meals right now. Or they might prefer having groceries in the house due to food allergies they can’t always avoid in prepared meals. Either way, as the giver, you’re taking the time to consider how best to serve the other person intentionally.
10 Ways to Apply Intentionality to Random Acts of Kindness
So, how do we use this concept when engaging in random acts of kindness for those around us? Here are 10 ideas for showing up with a kind and intentional heart on Random Acts of Kindness Day.
1. Do something for your partner in their preferred love language
Whether you’re deep into love languages or not, consider doing something for your partner that will resonate with what they value most. If they value spending quality time together, consider planning something at home or out and about that will allow you to spend meaningful time together. If your person prefers acts of service, take care of some chores around the house to alleviate stress and remove them from your partner’s plate.
2. Donate to a charity that means a lot to a loved one
Donating to charity is a wonderful thing to do, and you can take it a step further by donating to a charity that your loved one cares deeply about in their name. This signals that you are honoring their values and paying attention to causes that are important to them. (Your friends who are changemakers and passionate philanthropists will surely appreciate this!)
3. Create a playlist for a friend of songs in their favorite genre
Sending a playlist to a friend in an unfamiliar genre might allow them to explore new music they wouldn’t have otherwise. However, creating a playlist in their favorite genre says, “I know your music tastes, and I wanted to do something extra special for you.” (You can always throw in a handful of additional songs you think they might like outside their usual genre.)
4. Send a care package with items your person needs
I often joke that gift-giving is my love language (but really), and while sending care packages with cute items is nice (and warranted at times), consider leaning into intentional gift-giving by sending a care package with items the person truly needs.
You may have a friend who recently got laid off and could benefit from gift cards to help them pay their bills and put food on the table. Or perhaps you have a friend who loves crocheting and doesn’t have any extra budget to purchase any supplies, but you can spare a few extra dollars to get them a kit they want.
5. Give a compliment about something unique
Handing out compliments often makes the way to the top of the list when it comes to spreading kindness. But instead of sticking to the usual “Cute shirt!” try digging up a unique compliment about the person you want to give it to.
Maybe you appreciate how your barista never breaks eye contact with you and makes you feel heard. Or maybe your coworker makes meetings more tolerable and enjoyable by ensuring every voice can participate in the discussion.
6. Bring a friend their go-to coffee order
I am guilty of sending everyone I know a Starbucks gift card to say “thank you” or “I’m thinking of you.” While I always appreciate the gesture (and many others do), an alternate option is to surprise your friend with their go-to coffee order (from Starbucks or otherwise). This is great for your coffee-loving pals who love spending time together.
7. Offer to babysit or pet sit for someone in need
If you have friends who never get a night to themselves because they have little ones at home, offering to babysit on a night that works well for both of you can be a sweet and thoughtful gesture.
The same is true if your friend is getting ready to go on vacation and is still looking for a pet sitter for their fur baby.
8. Provide support by accompanying a loved one to an appointment
Kindness doesn’t have to cost much! Some of my loved ones dread going to certain appointments alone. Whether they fear bad news, have had a bad experience, or simply don’t want to go, you could offer to be their support and give them the gift of your time to help make their day less stressful.
9. Take care of an errand your person hasn’t been able to do
With busy to-do lists and endless responsibilities, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, behind, or overdue on our to-do lists. If you have extra time to spare, consider offering to tackle an errand for a friend or loved one on their plate to give them some time back and help them check it off their list. For example, you could drop off their return at the post office.
10. Gift them a memory jar or scrapbook
The sentimental people in your life might prefer a custom gift over something more generic. You could create an inexpensive memory jar and fill it with sticky notes detailing your favorite memories together. Or you could print recent photos and make them a collage or small scrapbook to look through together.
Commit random acts of kindness regularly!
Remember, moments of kindness don’t need to be complex, expensive, or overly complicated. A small, intentional act is all it takes to spread more love and positivity!
Looking for more ideas? Check out our Kind List.