Kindness Day is coming so be nice, it's gratifying

About six months ago, in the midst of serious economic challenges at the university and in the country at large, the CARS report, and other actual and potential changes at Brandeis, a group of faculty and staff started to talk about the small things that could make some of these big things easier to bear.

While it often seems easier to gripe and complain than to express thanks and gratitude, the group started to brainstorm about ways to encourage all members of the community to stop -- just for a minute -- and appreciate the people in their lives.

“We talked about all of the people who make the university run -- the people everyone knows and the people who work night shifts and who others rarely see,” says Wendy Cadge, associate professor of sociology and a lead organizer of Brandeis Kindness Day. “We wondered about whether there was a way to encourage people to take a moment to stop and say ‘thank you.’”

The group grew to a volunteer committee of 13 and learned about World Kindness Week, recognized around the globe and at other universities. They planned the first Brandeis Kindness Day, on Nov. 12, around the simple idea that stopping to appreciate people matters.

“It doesn't add to any of our paychecks,” Cadge said, “but can -- if only for a moment -- help us see each other as people past our job titles and the conflicts and hierarchies inherent in any kind of organization.

“We encourage people at Brandeis to take a moment on Nov. 12 to send an e-card letting someone know you are thinking about them or to stop at one of the tables in Usdan or Shapiro and write a postcard to someone you appreciate working with, just saying as much, “ Cadge said. “Your message doesn't have to be fancy or cheesy -- just try reaching out.”

Need a few ideas in the spirit of kindness Day?

•    Say hello to those you pass in the hallways or around campus.
•    Greet others with a friendly smile.
•     Pay a compliment to someone.
•    Write a note of appreciation on one of the Kindness Day postcards and send it interoffice mail.
•    Tell your supervisor, co-worker, professor or student that he/she is doing a great job.
•    Offer to lend a helping hand on those not so pleasant tasks at work.
•    Surprise someone with a soft drink, coffee, or bottled water.
•    Have special treats on your desk for people to take when they come by and visit you in the office.
•    Hold the door open for another person.
•    Allow a pedestrian or bicyclist to cross the road.
•    Make sure to say “please” and “thank you”.
•    Refrain from negative talk; concentrate on the positive.

People who perform random acts of kindness generally agree that doing a kind deed for someone else makes them “feel good.” The sponsors of Kindness Day are sure it will brighten your day and make you feel more accomplished. They urge all members of the community to practice random acts of kindness and pass it on.

Kindness Day is sponsored by the Division of Student Life, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of Human Resources.

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