Monday, Nov. 13, is World Kindness Day and at least one company is hoping to inspire some sweet givers. Krispy Kreme stores are giving away a dozen glazed doughnuts for free, no purchase required, for the first 500 customers in each store.
“World Kindness Day is an opportunity to make a positive difference by being generous — from paying it forward to meaningfully connecting with each other. Simple gestures of caring and thanks, including sharing a sweet treat, is a great way to do that,” said Dave Skena, global chief brand officer for Krispy Kreme. “We hope a dozen Original Glazed doughnuts — one doughnut for you and many to share with others — will inspire millions of small acts of kindness.”
Those small acts of kindness add up. When I asked online for thoughts on World Kindness Day, virtually all experiences shared were focused on small things that had a big impact. Debbie said that when her dad died, her friend brought ice cream. She “dished up two bowls and we sat and talked about memories and feeling,” which helped her process her grief.
Theresa said “The kindest things anyone ever did for me, were also very very simple. The givers simply put themselves in my position and did something very small to make my life better. Something they didn’t have to do and were probably too busy to do, but they did it. Outside of themselves. For me. It meant the world when I was struggling.”
Gov. Spencer Cox reminds us that “We don’t have to agree with people to be kind. We don’t have to live in the same neighborhood or go to the same church to be kind. And we certainly don’t have to have the same political views to be kind. Kindness connects us to one another and builds community. With kindness often in short supply, I encourage all Utahns to practice kindness today and everyday.”
A daily choice
We would miss the entire point of World Kindness Day if we were only kind one day a year. Clare Pooley, author of “The Authenticity Project,” is the one who coined the phrase “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” Monta shared that her husband is constantly looking for ways to be kind, even when he’s sick in bed.
Kindness is a daily choice, a series of small acts, as my friend Julie posted. “It might be waving a person in trying to merge, a smile for a stranger at the grocery store, picking up a piece of trash in a park, or stopping to buy lemonade at a child’s summer stand. Kindness practiced becomes a habit which becomes a lifestyle. Kindness is extending grace and assuming the best of others.”
Shelley’s friend extended that grace to her when Shelley gave her friend the brush-off over a perceived offense. She explains: “I took offense, falsely judged and gave a good friend the cold shoulder for months because I mistakenly thought she had betrayed my trust. She confronted me with kindness and curiosity that I didn’t deserve and frankly forgave me when I discovered I was in the wrong.”
Acts of kindness help us feel seen
Several people who responded wrote about feeling seen, like Arlene who said she was so tired from packing up her house while tending her two young godchildren and her friend — who had been helping all day — told her to go take a shower and she would watch the kids. “It was probably one of the most selfless, kind things anyone has ever done for me,” she wrote.
Miriam wrote that being asked to sit with a family at church was the kindest act she had received in a long time. She didn’t need to sit with anyone else, but that small gesture led her to remark that “sometimes the greatest acts of kindness are those that help us feel seen.”
Oléa is paying it forward, as she remembers what it was like to be a young mom struggling with a kid having a hard day. “I try to show compassion to moms in this situation now,” she said. “I offer to help, tell them they are doing a great job, or smile kindly so they know they aren’t alone.”
Robin described kindness as seeing others deeply and trying to make their day better however you can, and Janice shared that she feels kindness when someone hears a passing remark, then asks about it later. It makes her feel they were paying attention and they care.
Kind is not the same as nice
Kari reminded me that being kind is not the same as being nice. “Kindness is an action from the heart. It requires more than being nice; it requires love,” she said.
Other experts agree. Thomas Plante, a psychology professor and faculty scholar with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, said that “being ‘nice’ is about being polite, civilized and demonstrating high levels of social skills and etiquette” but being kind “involves action and intentions beyond just politeness or niceness.” In a recent interview, he said that we can be kind to others, even if we don’t like them and called on people everywhere to step up their efforts to be kind in our fractured, polarized world.
Dr. Marcia Sirota agrees. Being kind is “a behavior that’s thoughtful, caring and considerate, but also strong, confident and self-caring,” said the psychiatrist and author of “Be Kind, Not Nice: How to Stop People-Pleasing, Build Your Confidence and Discover Your Authentic Self.” “Kindness,” she said, “is the antidote to a world divided, anxious and lonely.”
Maybe a dozen doughnuts is just the place to start.