It’s hard being kind.


September 13, 2012 by Michael Vuke

Street Art of Oscar the Grouch

photo credit: niznoz via photo pin cc

A couple of weeks ago, I started the Random Acts of Kindness Project. Essentially it is a challenge to myself to every day do something nice for someone else that is outside the parameters of what I normally do. I decided to start doing this because I was tired of going through life thinking of myself and how I could do things to help me out. In looking at the Bible and at others people I admire, I saw a trend of doing selfless acts of service and kindness to others, and decided to emulate it.

What have I learned so far?

It is hard being kind.

Seriously. It is a lot harder than you would think to go out of your way and do something selflessly kind for someone. I hate to admit it, but instead of doing something every day, I’ve probably been doing a RAK every other day, max. If I’m brutally honest, it is probably more like a couple of times a week.

This isn’t to say I’ve been a Scrooge the rest of the time, it is just that I didn’t do something outside of my normal life that didn’t benefit me directly and did benefit someone else on those off days.

You have to be intentional.

I have had the most success on days that I went into with a general game plan for how I would serve someone else. Even if all the preparation you do is going into the day with a mindset of service, you’ll notice a difference. If you go around in your normal mindset, you’ll only do normal things.

One interesting phenomena that has arisen is something I wouldn’t have predicted. As I started looking out of for opportunities to help others, I found myself focusing on myself. I kept finding myself forcing myself to stop looking for something that would look good to others. The whole point of this is to selflessly serve others, not to put feathers in my hat. It is a little twisted, but as I strived to rid myself of a self-centric mindset, the self started climbing up more.

Maybe I’m just noticing what has been hiding under the surface all along.

That is one of the things I like about living minimalistically—the less clutter you have in your life, the harder it is for things to hide. But that’s a topic for another post.

I’ve learned all this from just a few weeks, and I’ve got a long ways to go. Come along for the ride—join me in the Project, and share your experiences and lessons you’ve learned with the rest of the world.


10 thoughts on “It’s hard being kind.

  1. Kate says:

    WOW this is hitting me hard!! I am so happy I stumbled across your blog! I would like to join you in this project. Really, as I think more about it, this project essentially means living a life of love – getting focus off of self and on to those God brings into my life. Thank you for this encouragement, and may the Lord bless your efforts. Please keep posting so I can learn from your ideas!!

    • Michael Vuke says:

      Please do join me; the more, the merrier! (and the more people that are trying to love their fellow man, the better off this world will be)

      I’m planning on posting an update to the RAK project every couple of weeks, so hopefully that will help you out. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on it, what you’ve learned through your experiences, etc. If you blog about it, send me a link, or if you just want to comment and share, I’d love that too!

  2. shauncsmith says:

    I’m working on something similar and tracking it on my own blog. Aside from that, I’m a teacher. I remember being in high school and seeing other students drop their books and seeing no one offer to help pick them up. Now that I’m on the other side of the desk, I always try to be the first person to rush in and help kids get themselves back together. I also try to offer advice on the best way to carry an arm load of books. I don’t know how much this helps (or if it just makes me one of the “weird” teachers) but I try. I’ve also started making my students thank the cafeteria workers every day when they leave the cafeteria. I think it makes their day better, too.

    • Michael Vuke says:

      I checked out your blog, and I really like your idea. Like you said there, the first few steps will be the hardest, but I think that you have a great opportunity (and vision) here for a big impact on a lot of people’s lives.

      Best of luck on your project! I’ll be interested to see what happens.

      • shauncsmith says:

        Thanks! The roughest part of it all is that my Mom keeps trying to give me twenty dollars. I know she’s just trying to help me out and all, but I’m afraid taking the first step with a 20 from my Mom is going to de-legitimize my endeavor. I almost wonder if the best thing to do would be to say that the first person to give me something greater will have the benefit of me giving 30 dollars instead of ten. What do you think?

      • Michael Vuke says:

        I definitely understand where you are coming from with that. I could see either way being a good thing.

        With this project, I was initially hesitant to count some of the stuff I did for my immediate family towards it, but I realized that if anything, I should be more generous towards them than anyone else.

        So, using that in your situation, I would say that (if it were me) I would be fine with making your first trade up within the family, as you do want to encourage that idea/behavior with anyone you can, but just make sure that you expand outside of the family asap. Does that make sense?

        I like the idea you had of making the first thing $30 instead of $10, if you didn’t want to make the $20 the first ‘official’ trade.

  3. Hi Michael. When I read this my immediate thought was, maybe he’s being too hard on himself. It reminds me of someone who wants to lose weight trying to work out & eat healthy every single day instead of working out 3-5x/wk & llowing themselves a treat on the wkend. Maybe that’s just me not being driven enough. I’m not sure of your approach to doing a RAK i.e. if you plan them, wait to see an opportunity, or both but I think this PDF on making S.M.A.R.T goals will help you out. I found out about it from the youtube channel “shayloss”. Shay did a project called Shaytember where he encouraged everyone to spend the month of September setting goals for self improvement. Lastly, maybe it would help you be more intentional with your RAK if you volunteer for an organization that focuses on helping others. That way you’re guaranteed to be helpful every wk, or however often you volunteer. That’s not truly random but hey, kindness is kindness. Just a few thoughts :o)

    • Michael Vuke says:

      My approach is a bit of a mixture between seeing an opportunity/need and taking it and planning things. I lean towards seeing a need and filling it, but I do both ways (somethings just can’t be done randomly–like helping someone out at their house). As for the every day vs. working towards everyday, my goal is to do a RAK everyday, but I don’t beat myself up when I don’t hit that goal. I recognize that it is unrealistic to think that I can just jump in every day and get this stuff done, but the way I’m wired, I know that if I set a lower goal, I’d be content with that goal. And while I would genuinely like to have a “RAK” everyday, I’m more concerned with the mentality and attitude behind it, so as long as I’m developing that with frequent manifestations of it through acts of kindness, I’m not too concerned about checking it off of my to-do list every day.

      I’ve seen the smart goals thing before (I actually use them a little bit with my studying); thanks for sharing it!

      I appreciate your advice–this is one aspect of the RAK project that I am excited about: meeting others who are doing similar things, and getting advice and help from those around me! It’s always great hearing other people’s thoughts.

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