Provide students with a brief introduction to this practice. For middle and high school students, it could be a very brief intro to the research behind this practice and say they’re going to test it out. For younger students, it could be a discussion about why it is important to be kind, how being the recipient of other’s acts of kindness makes them feel, and how they feel when they are able to perform kind acts for others.
If working with older students, tell them that for the next six weeks they will be asked to choose one day each week in which they will complete the following exercise. For younger students, you may consider simply engaging in five acts of kindness together as a class or even reducing the number of kindness acts to two or three.
- Remind students that the acts do not need to be for the same person—the person doesn’t even have to be aware of them. As a class, you may want to have students create a list on the board of examples, so that all students have an idea of the kinds of acts they could do. Examples for older students could include feeding a stranger’s parking meter, picking up litter, helping a friend with a chore, or providing a meal to a person in need. Examples for younger students could include holding the door open for a teacher, helping to clear up a mess they didn’t make, donating some of their old books to the school library, picking up litter, or offering to play with someone who’s on their own.
- Perform five acts of kindness—all five in one day (less for younger students). It doesn’t matter if the acts are big or small, but it is more powerful if students perform a variety of acts.
- After each act, students should write down what they did in at least one or two sentences and write down how it made them feel.
After the set six weeks or after the chosen single day, host a reflection circle with students in which they share how their experiences went. You may use the following questions:
- What sort of acts of kindness did you do?
- What sort of responses did you receive?
- How did you feel? Were you surprised by your own feelings?
Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., University of California, Riverside