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2020’s been… a year. Filled with tests and trials, the brightest times in what has otherwise been a pretty dark year, have been magical moments of kindness.
Kindness is contagious. When we see people helping each other, it gives us hope that we’re not all alone. It inspires us to act with courageous compassion and help those around us. Kindness connects us with empathy, bringing more meaning, motivation, and love to our lives.
In the spirit of kindness, we’ve crafted 12 days of opportunities to lift your spirits and brighten someone’s day. For 12 days, we’ll publish one new act of kindness for you to complete. And while we’re framing this as a 12-day challenge, you may feel so good after one act that you’ll be inspired to keep on spreading joy with small acts of kindness through the end of 2021.
Share your acts of kindness with the hashtag #BetterUs and tag us @BetterUp for a chance to win all the books from our 2021 Personal Growth Book List! Personally curated by our coaches at BetterUp, these are our top picks for books to grow into the new year.
Are you ready to tap into kindness and reconnect with your community?
Day 1: Write a Thank You Note.
Saying thank you isn’t just about being polite. We face negative feedback, critiques, and stress daily. When someone says ‘Thank You’, and genuinely means it - it brightens everyone’s day.
Today’s Challenge: Provide specific, positive feedback in the form of a Thank You note to someone. Expressing and receiving gratitude can be incredibly motivating and builds trust - choose someone you feel isn’t always appreciated, and share why you value them.
Day 2: Pay for a Stranger’s Coffee.
Did you know your brain actively limits your generosity? It’s hard to support causes and people we don’t know, and our brains try to protect us by preventing empathy. But when we fight past our initial distrust, research actually suggests that spending money on others makes us happier than spending on ourselves.
Today’s Challenge: Give generously to someone you don’t know. Pay for a stranger’s cup of coffee, send a digital gift card, donate to a cause. Show up for your global community today - you might be surprised at how good it feels.
Day 3: Surprise a Friend with a Kind Message.
Did you know kindness is considered a character strength? The Values in Action Inventory of Strengths identified Kindness as 1 of 24 key character strengths and found that individuals who lead with kindness tend to be happier as a result.
Today’s Challenge: Send a message to a friend. With social connection currently capped by social distancing protocols, an unexpected message of appreciation can go a long way. We’re all feeling a little lonely right now - sharing gratitude reminds your loved ones how much you value them, and helps you reconnect.
Day 4: Donate to a Food Pantry.
Did you know that once our basic needs - food, water, shelter, financial security - are satisfied, wealth has little effect on our happiness? The less we have, the more we appreciate and benefit from every step - no matter how small - towards happiness, security, and health.
Today’s Challenge: Give the gift of food security to someone in need. Donate to a nearby food pantry. The World Health Organization estimated that nearly 690 million people went hungry in 2019, so take a moment to share the wealth. Every little bit counts, and your gift won’t go unnoticed.
Day 5: Call Someone Who Needs a Pick-Me-Up.
Research shows that when we support each other, we’re better equipped to deal with our own challenges and stress. We’re soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship, and nothing makes us happier than feeling like we belong. Empathizing with others helps us remember that life’s worth celebrating.
Today’s Challenge: Give the gift of support. Call someone who’s had a rough time and check-in. You don’t need to offer advice. Be there for them, offer yourself as a safe space, and share a few kind words. Sometimes that’s all it takes to turn someone’s day around.
Day 6: Give a Gift to the Mail Carrier.
Looking for joy? Expressing gratitude can increase your happiness and life satisfaction. Research shows that expressing gratitude increases happiness and decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety. When we share our appreciation, we lift everybody up right alongside ourselves.
Today’s Challenge: Take a moment to thank someone who might not know you appreciate them. Thank the mail carrier, or positively affirm the work of a coworker. Don’t assume people know how much you value them - a little appreciation goes a long way, and can mean the world to someone.
Day 7: Write an Inspiring Note on the Sidewalk.
Did you know enthusiasm is contagious? Research suggests the most motivated teams are those with authentically enthusiastic leadership that inspires through a shared sense of purpose. When leaders exude enthusiasm, coworkers feel excited to work and bring their best to the team.
Today’s Challenge: Share your excitement - write an inspiring note on the sidewalk to motivate anyone who passes by! You never know who might’ve needed the exact inspiration you wrote…
Day 8: Let Someone Go Ahead of You in Line.
We all know patience is a virtue, but sometimes all it takes to set us off is someone cutting us off in rush hour or dismissing our time and efforts by jumping the line. Practicing patience helps us tap into empathy and humility, recognizing us all as equals and helping us resiliently stay the course towards our goals.
Today’s Challenge: Fight the urge to defend your place in line - let someone go in front of you at the grocery store. Give someone the right of way in traffic. Humility is not a weakness, but rather a great strength. When we humble ourselves, we can act with empathy and patience with ease.
Day 9: Compliment Three People.
Research shows effective teams are more likely to offer positive feedback. Feedback helps us measure our progress and grow. But beyond business, positive communication helps us see how we’re received and better ourselves in all parts of life. When you keep it positive and voice feedback often, you lead with humility and inspire motivation.
Today’s Challenge: Take a moment to compliment three people. They could be strangers, peers, friends or family. Give specific feedback that compliments them - a little appreciation goes a long way.
Day 10: Make an Award for Someone.
Who doesn’t love surprise appreciation? Validation is a critical cornerstone of motivation, and inspires us to work beyond our responsibilities towards a shared sense of purpose. When we feel our work is valued, Recognizing someone’s efforts reminds them how valued they are, and generally just makes people happier.
Today’s Challenge: Take the time to validate someone’s work. Go beyond a simple pat on the back. Give concrete examples of how impactful their work has been, and create an award you know this person will value.
Day 11: Leave a Generous Tip.
Did you know lottery winners are no happier one year after winning than they were before hitting the lotto? Although it might surprise us, wealth beyond meeting our basic needs for security does not make us happier. Interestingly, research suggests we’re actually happier when we give our wealth to others.
Today’s Challenge: Share your wealth, leave someone a generous tip! A little goes a long way, and making someone’s day with a surprise tip is sure to lift both your spirits and theirs.
Day 12: Treat Yourself to A Relaxing Evening.
With so many acts of kindness for others, make sure you don’t get lost in the mix. Research from BetterUp Labs found practicing self-compassion can increase our resiliency by 13%. When we prioritize time for ourselves today, we’re better able to dedicate all our energy and passion to achieving our goals tomorrow.
Today’s Challenge: Section off a block of time and plan a relaxing evening for yourself! Maybe it’s a night of board games and connecting with loved ones, or maybe you need a night of true R&R with bubbly baths, face masks and massages. Just schedule a time and stick to it - centering yourself isn’t selfish. Relaxing and reconnecting with ourselves revitalizes us and helps us resiliently stay the course towards our dreams.
That marks the end of our 12 day challenge. How did you do? What acts of kindness would you add to the list? We hope you’ve enjoyed reconnecting with kindness and would love to keep this chain of kindness going!
Spread the love and share this challenge with your friends and family. Make sure you tag us @BetterUp and use #BetterUs for a chance to win all the books from our 2021 Book List for Personal Growth! We’re so happy you joined our challenge, and are excited to make the world a kinder place right alongside you, one step at a time.