Following last week’s column regarding Random Acts of Kindness, I received a lot of correspondence asking me how we implemented the activity.
So I thought I would share exactly how we did the RAK activity at our school.
We did the activity with fifty Year 10 students.
We secretly assigned each member of the year group a secret buddy. Each student was told who their buddy was, and were encouraged to perform one or two acts of kindness for that person, each week for the final three weeks of term.
We surveyed the students using Google Forms, or you could also use SurveyMonkey.
Prior to the activity taking place we asked:
1. On a scale of 1 – 10, how “kind” would you say you are?
2. On a scale of 1 – 10, how happy do you think RECEIVING Random Acts of Kindness will make you?
3. On a scale of 1 – 10, how happy do you think PERFORMING Random Acts of Kindness will make you?
4. Give some examples of RAKs that you may perform for your Secret Buddy
At the end of Week 1 & 2 we asked the same questions. They were:
1. What RAK did you RECEIVE from your Secret Buddy? (If you don’t know, then say so!)
2. What RAK did you perform for your Secret Buddy? (If you didn’t do anything, then say so!)
3. On a scale of 1-10 how happy did RECEIVING a RAK make you?
4. On a scale of 1-10 how happy did PERFORMING a RAK make you?
5. On a scale of 1-10 how happy would you say you’ve been in general this week.
Because we knew who had had been assigned to each other, it was interesting to compare and contrast responses. For Q1, some students said they had not received a RAK, whilst the student who had been assigned as their buddy would report holding a door open, or carrying bags etc. Perhaps the expectation of receiving something build up their hopes too much?
After the final week we asked the same questions as Week 1 & 2 PLUS:
1. In general, PERFORMING RAKs made me happier than receiving RAKs
2. In general, RECEIVING RAKs made me happier than performing RAKs
3. In general, the more thought or effort I put into the RAK I performed, the better I felt about it
4. Since doing the RAK activity I now see how doing things for others improves my own sense of wellbeing
5. In general, the happier I feel, the better (overall wellbeing) I feel.
6. Since doing the RAK activity I am more inclined to do things for other people (help out, volunteer, charity work etc.)
These were the findings:
On a scale of 1‐10, with 1 = “Not at all” and 10 = “Ecstatic”
64% rated their happiness scale at 6+ when receiving an Act of Kindness.
80% rated their happiness scale at 6+ when performing an Act of Kindness.
Only 4% said that receiving an Act of Kindness made them happier than performing one.
76% said that the more thought/effort they put into performing an Act of Kindness, the happier they felt because of it.
94% said the happier they felt, the better (in terms of mental wellbeing) they felt.
72% said that as a result of RAK activity, they can now see how doing something for others actually enhances their own wellbeing.
50% said that because of the RAK activity they were more likely to undertake charity or volunteer work, with another 38% saying they would have done so anyway. Only 12% said that the activity had definitely not impacted on their desire to do any more volunteer or charity work.
This activity and our findings have been published in the book SMART Strengths.
Whether you use this format or not, the RAK activity is a great one to enhance any environment… give it a try!
Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, consultant, and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars. He is the co-developer of Happy Schools and blogs at http://danhaesler.com/ and tweets at @danhaesler