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Celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Day

File Feb 16, 11 04 19 PM

By Alicia H. Malnati, PhD, CSPS Program Assistant

Out on the PGA Tour, where my husband Peter Malnati plays, I see kindness everywhere.

I see kindness on the faces of thousands of volunteers who give their time to support important causes. I see kindness in the hands of Tour players when they toss balls to eager kids during tournament rounds. I see kindness in the millions of dollars donated to charity every year.

Today, Random Acts of Kindness Day, we at the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society celebrate the depth and breadth of kindness that makes life a bit more beautiful. We recognize and appreciate that no act of generosity, humility, kindness, or caring is ever wasted.

On this day, we honor the life-changing work of global leaders like teenage Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, who advocates, in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world, for the right of girls to attend primary and secondary school. We honor the efforts of everyday heroes like Richard Joyner, who revitalized rural Conetoe, N.C. with a youth-led community garden, and Dr. Jim Withers, who offers free, quality healthcare to homeless individuals in Pittsburgh. Today, we also honor those small, often fleeting, moments of kindness and the people who bring them to life: the stranger who holds the door, the friend who shares a treat, the colleague who offers a helping hand.

But, so what?

Why do random acts of kindness matter, and why should I care?

CSPS Director Sarah Hillyer comforts a woman at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan

Acts of kindness not only contribute to the Butterfly Effect – the idea that one small act can inspire chain-reactions that lead to substantial change elsewhere – but research shows that spreading kindness can actually boost happiness.

Happiness is the inner joy that emerges from knowing you’ve inspired someone else’s good day. It appears as a sense of calm from remembering that relationships still matter and people still care. Happiness might be the much-needed reminder of goodwill amid the chaos of our crazy world. Importantly, random acts of kindness reveal the power of the human connection, bring novelty to the mundane, and tug on our heartstrings when we need it most.

These acts of kindness – large and small – remind me of the work that KIND Snacks, one of Peter’s new golf partners, celebrates. They dub these kindness-spreading, happiness-sharing, smile-inducing, paying-it-forward champions of joy #kindawesome. They believe in the power of “being kind to your body, your taste buds, and your world.” They believe that making kindness a state of mind can help communities flourish. They believe that kindness can make the world a better place.

Here at the CSPS we believe in that, too.

Every year, we empower new generations of international change-makers to leverage the intersectional power of sport, education, and media to tackle some of the world’s most complex issues. The results of more than 20 years of work in the field of sport for development and peace can be seen in the progress of our alumnae.

In Jordan, Batoul Arnaout empowers underserved children to become sports champions through outdoor activity. In Mexico, Cecilia Vales works tirelessly to end cycles of poverty for girls through soccer. In Indonesia, Hanna Fauzie challenges gender imbalances through sports journalism. In India, Nungshi and Tashi Malik empower women and girls through mountaineering and outdoor adventure. In Kenya, Veronica Osogo enriches the lives of children and works to alleviate poverty in Kibera slums through tennis.

Batoul Arnaout, founder of BOOST, with a woman at her annual 100KM Cycling Challenge in December to empower female athletes and benefit underserved communities in Jordan

Through acts of kindness and generosity, these women selflessly give their hearts and minds to confront issues in their communities. They enter uncharted arenas with boldness and vision. They dedicate themselves to improving the lives of others despite the surrounding risks and chaos. They show unwavering commitment to growth and development with compassion and love.

On this special day, we proudly highlight their efforts to spread and celebrate kindness across the globe.

We think they’re #kindawesome.