I really struggled keeping a secret from my wife Mandy these last two weeks.
Of course, the secret was worth keeping – it was a secret Facebook group devoted to performing Random Acts of Kindness in celebration of her 40th birthday. We set a goal of 40, but ended up achieving more than 160 acts shared in the group in the 10 days ending on her birthday.
It was hard to see these beautiful acts come in, and not be able to share them with my best friend.
But interestingly, a pattern emerged of people wishing to be able to keep more secrets. In short, they didn’t want to appear to brag about performing kindnesses.
I understand the motivation, but in the end, the power of this group convinced me that it’s vital that we share these acts of kindness when we do them.
We’re in a sharing society, where our impression of the world is profoundly affected by what people share on social media. We can interpret absence as nonexistence, so when no one shares these random acts, we assume they don’t exist. This might give some permission to be less kind themselves.
Secondly, and more important, the members of the group saw quick amplification from the posting. The frequency of posts increased, the creativity and magnitude of random acts grew. People copied earlier random acts, or were simply inspired to get out there and perform their own Random Acts. Entire classrooms were inspired by their teacher’s sharing about this group, recipients of early acts of kindness performed their own and reported back to the group. I heard reports of teenagers and adults having long conversations about the meaning of these acts, and their value to society.
All of this tells me, we need to be more intentional about sharing the positive things we do in our life. Not to brag, but to inspire others.
I’ve changed the group to public, and hope deeply that you’ll join, enjoy the past random acts, and perform your own – and share them!
There are secrets worth keeping for surprises, and there are secrets we need to stop holding so tightly.