Random Acts of Kindness

This Friday is the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan’s Random Act of Kindness Day. Last year they recorded over 10,000 random acts of kindness. It ranged from adding coins to an expired parking meter, paying for the coffee of the person behind you, helping your neighbour clean up leaves, businesses offering random discounts, and people randomly offering a free loonie, cookie or apple, etc. The Foundation website has more information (www.cfso.net) and ideas on how you can take part. Kindness doesn’t have to revolve around money or out of pocket costs – a simple positive comment or thank you is a great first start. 

Telling someone they have a beautiful smile can do wonders for one’s self-esteem. Showing your appreciation for your friend, neighbour or organization and how they contribute helps to validate that people are making a difference and are valued. As a community we can sometimes get in a fluster over the issue of the day and either personalize our viewpoints or feed into the negativity associated with differences of opinions. For one day, we can focus on the positive things and people in our community. The Penticton Herald tried publishing only good news on a particular day of the week. I asked their editor why that practice stopped, and the answer was that it wasn’t that popular and, sad to say, bad news sells. It is the harsh reality of our society that we dwell on the negative, short comings and deficiencies of people.

I have no illusions that this column will magically transform society’s lust for the dramatic, controversial or pessimistic perspectives; however, change in attitudes and outlooks start one person at a time. I think our community has many success stories of people making a difference in the lives of others. We have one the best volunteer and support networks around.  We are the envy of other communities in terms of our volunteer army, generous citizens and highly engaged non-profits.

You may not subscribe to sunshine and lollipops as a mindset or philosophy, but how hard would it be to change your outlook of the glass being half full vs half empty? It is amazing how easy negativity sucks the enthusiasm out of any situation, so we need to surround ourselves with positive community builders. There are those who will always find something to complain about. For us as a community to move forward we need to bring about a greater emphasis and focus on the positive opportunities we have, and work collaboratively with other like-minded individuals and businesses to improve the health of our community.  We have so much potential in Penticton and it truly is a place to stay forever – how do we build momentum and enthusiasm to the point that is becomes contagious. Change starts with each citizen, one person at a time.