While National Random Acts of Kindness Day on Wednesday, Feb. 17, celebrates being kind spontaneously, the Mason Chooses Kindness (MCK) initiative is emphasizing intentional acts of kindness every day. Mason Chooses Kindness aims to help Patriots thrive together through kindness with resources, events and ways to get involved in creating a kindness revolution at Mason.
“At Mason, we’re calling the National Random Acts of Kindness Day the National Intentional Acts of Kindness Day,” said Nance Lucas, Mason Chooses Kindness co-chair, Mason’s chief well-being officer, and executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. “While recognizing kindness on Feb. 17 is important, it’s really about emphasizing kindness on the other 364 days of the year. Giving and receiving kindness are bucket-fillers for our overall well-being. Kindness deepens our connections with one another, which is something I think we’re all yearning for during these challenging times.”
Mason Chooses Kindness Co-Chair and University Life Associate Dean Lewis Forrest said being kind intentionally helps connect Mason students and employees to the movement. “From the beginning of the initiative, MCK has emphasized being intentional in the education, awareness and engagement with our community.”
Since the start of this academic year, the Mason Chooses Kindness movement “has been able to energize members of our campus in a short period of time,” Forrest said, with events that have reached faculty, staff and students. Those events have included service projects, such as assembling care packages for local first responders, and a guided kindness meditation walk.
“The goal is not just to spread kindness, but to share stories and educate our community about the research related to kindness,” said Forrest.
The “Connecting through Kindness” online panel on Feb. 3 featured students and employees discussing why kindness matters and ways to practice it. Kathleen Dwyer, an integrative studies major and student leadership consultant in the Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) Office, was one of the panelists. She said the initiative is helping students “create a different dialogue where we can focus on personal kindness.
“Internalizing that within yourself and being understanding, having the patience with yourself, is a great place to start,” Dwyer added. “Being able to connect that to service, I think, is a really great opportunity to watch yourself grow. And I think Mason has done a great job of still providing different ways to get involved in a virtual setting.”
MCK has accomplished a lot so far, said Lucas, including creating an MCK Toolkit and raising awareness about the science behind kindness and its well-being benefits.
More events are planned this semester—starting with the online “Leading with Kindness” program at noon Wednesday, Feb. 17, in which participants will develop a mind map focused on how to use kindness as a guiding leadership value. Patriots can visit the MCK website for such online activities as a kindness calendar and kindness bingo.
The center will continue to share videos and stories of kindness while hosting workshops, panels and roundtables for students, faculty, staff and alumni, Lucas said. “We plan to host gatherings featuring instructors who integrate kindness in their classrooms and student leaders who are educating others about compassionate leadership.”
Those who come to the Fairfax Campus in person will also notice visible signs of MCK, said Forrest, including kindness messages written in chalk by students and the Mason Chooses Kindness banner outside the Johnson Center.
“We’ll know we’re successful when we see a kindness revolution happening on all our campuses,” Lucas said.