Random Act of Kindness

Child holds out small bouquet of flowersA random act of kindness is an unexpected act of charity or helpfulness and is often done for a stranger.

What Is a Random Act of Kindness?

The term random act of kindness is generally attributed to Anne Herbert who wrote, “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a restaurant place mat. The term refers to selfless acts, both large and small, that are committed unexpectedly, without prompting and with no apparent ulterior motive. Examples might include paying for a coffee for the person in line behind you at the coffee shop, helping a person cross the street, or offering to help soothe a crying baby while the parents finish shopping. People generally use the term to refer to acts performed for strangers, but random acts of kindness can also be done for friends and family.

Random Acts of Kindness and Mental Health

Random acts of kindness may help to improve mental health. There is some evidence that working to help others can be a way to cope positively with one’s own problems. Some people find that their own problems seem less severe when they help others, and the positive regard many people receive when they do kind things can help improve their mood. While a random act of kindness is not a substitute for mental health treatment, it can help people feel better about themselves and those around them.

Ideas for Enacting Random Acts of Kindness

There are a number of ways you can show kindness to someone unexpectedly. Here are a few simple suggestions:

  • Send a handwritten letter to someone you care about.
  • Thank someone who provides a service to you, like the barista at the coffee shop or your mail carrier.
  • Offer to help when you see someone burdened by a heavy load, struggling to open a heavy door, or trying to cross the street.
  • Pay someone a compliment.
  • Assist a neighbor with yard work, or share the bounty of your garden with friends.

In addition, there are many websites dedicated to suggesting potential random acts. Some bloggers chronicle the effects their random acts of kindness have on others and emphasize how kindness improves their own lives as well as the lives of those around them.


  1. Kindness Ideas. (n.d.). The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/
  2. Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty [.PDF]. (n.d.). State Bar of Michigan.

Last Updated: 02-15-2018

  • Leave a Comment
  • Josefin B

    January 29th, 2016 at 6:22 AM

    Yes, I agree with you, we can do an act of kindness for anyone. You can do it for friends and family. If your brother is upset, you can do something special for him it is also a step of kindness. We all need to do an act of kindness work in daily life.

  • Freida

    May 8th, 2020 at 3:46 AM

    Random acts of kindness are good to do whenever a person recognizes a need and steps up – even if no one else is looking or notices. It is service to our fellow human beings. I am a person who has very modest means, but I know there are others with less than me. Doing a random act of kindness is easy and it’s free. You will help someone at no cost to yourself.

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