Over the past few months, our lives have turned upside down. We are now practicing social distancing, staying away from our friends and unable to leave our homes. Many of us have lost our jobs, and all of us are experiencing a change to our daily routine. On top of these already significant changes, the coping mechanisms we have always relied upon may not be an option. Therapy appointments have been moved to virtual spaces or cancelled entirely; getting coffee with your best friends is impossible; taking a stress-free nature walk is now tainted by the fear of catching an illness. How do we go forward in these times? My name is Sarah, founder of The Kindness Quest, and I believe that kindness is the answer.
The Kindness Quest
At the end of 2019, I don’t know how I would have kept going if normal coping mechanisms were missing. As a survivor of several mental illnesses, I rely heavily upon counseling and other social supports to function. Even with these supports, however, I could tell that something was missing in my life. I needed something more to be able to recover. I thought back to the times in my life when I felt well, and almost all of these periods involved me taking time out of my day on a regular basis to help others. After some brainstorming, I decided that I would perform one random act of kindness every day for all of 2020. I spent the rest of December planning a website and deciding on some initial challenges, and on January 1st, 2020, The Kindness Quest was born.
This project went off without a hitch for the first month or two. I kept mostly to myself, using my website to keep myself accountable and performing as many anonymous acts of kindness as I could. But once March arrived and we were ordered to social distance, I had no idea how to keep The Kindness Quest going. How could I be kind to others when I couldn’t even see them face to face?
After the initial panic passed and I thought a little deeper, I realized that times of isolation are exactly when we need to spread kindness most. We live in a time where the Internet is readily available, so why not spread kindness online? I created an Instagram and Facebook page for The Kindness Quest, and was stunned by the positive response I received. Suddenly, I found myself able to share my project with so many more people. On top of that, I was making new friends online with similar missions, and I have already learned so much about helping others through my interactions with them.
It is because of this experience that I am writing about spreading kindness from home. Through my personal work as well as the lessons I have been privileged to learn from my newfound companions online, here is what YOU can do to spread kindness alongside us!
Start Small. Every act of kindness matters, no matter how simple! Smiling at strangers you pass on walks, helping your mom unload the dishwasher, or posting a kind comment on a friend’s new profile picture are great ways to spread kindness. You never know whose day you might brighten with a simple hello and a smile!
Plan Ahead. Although spontaneous acts of kindness certainly happen, they are much easier to spot when you’re around people face-to-face. By brainstorming some kindness ideas and planning them on a calendar (or your preferred planning method!), you won’t ever be stuck for kindness ideas. Check out our templates that you can check off at thekindnessquest.com or make your own!
Get Creative. The best acts of kindness often come from thinking outside the box. Check out our list of past Quests on thekindnessquest.com for some inspiration, or think up some of your own! Mail letters to people in need, create a message in sidewalk chalk for neighbours to walk past, set up a wall of teddy bears in your window to bring a smile to children nearby: the possibilities are endless!
Be Brave. Sometimes, we struggle to be kind for the fear of bothering people (silly, I know, but it happens). We worry that we’ll get in the way if we offer to help, that our act of kindness is too small to matter, or that strangers don’t want to hear from us. Although this was a fear I needed to face when I first started the Quest, I cannot tell you how wrong I was. Every single person I have helped, whether anonymously or not, has seemed grateful. Many of them were even inspired to perform their own acts of kindness. Kindness really does have a ripple effect, we just need one courageous person to start the wave. Let it be you!
Find Your People. This journey became much easier for me once I found a tribe of people who always had my back and supported me along the way. Ask a friend to make a Kindness Quest calendar with you, and check off the acts as you go! Subscribe to our mailing list by visiting thekindnessquest.com for weekly tips! You can also join our community by following @thekindnessquest on social media and letting us know about your acts of kindness by tagging #TheKindnessQuest. We would love to hear from you and show you love and support!
Like many of you, I experienced disruption as a result of social isolation. What I did not expect, however, were the ways in which this project of mine would change. I am so pleased to be sharing kindness with more people, and I can’t wait for you all to join me. Spread kindness like wildfire: it’s the good kind of contagious!
Follow Sarah and The Kindness Quest on Instragram: @thekindnessquest