PHOENIX - February is National Kindness Month, and the week of Feb. 12 was dedicated to Random Acts of Kindness. But there are several groups in the Valley working to make kindness a part of daily life.
“The month, the week of kindness, is something that helps grow awareness to it,” said Christy Brown, the studio manager for Ben’s Bells. “But kindness is something we need all the time. “
Brown works in the studio where volunteers create Ben’s Bells, which are left around the city for people to find messages of kindness.
Ben’s Bells started after a family in Tucson lost their son to a sudden illness. The community rallying around them helped them realize how important it is to be kind. That’s when they started making Ben’s Bells and spreading kindness around their community.
Now hundreds of bells are distributed around the state every month.
“They’re special because you can’t buy a Ben’s Bell,” Brown said. “You have to find it; we like to say Ben’s Bells find you.”
All you need to do to play a part in spreading the message is stop by the studio and volunteer some time to create the bells. No artistic ability is required to make a difference. The studio is located in Downtown Phoenix at 417 East Roosevelt Street
Kindness can also have a big impact on your mental health. According to Scott Bartlett of Banner Behavioral Health, one study looked at how thinking of three good things before bed can change your mental state.
“After two weeks of doing this exercise every day, there was a fairly long term effect in terms of efficacy,” Brown said. “And after doing this for two months, it was the effect of six months of being on Prozac.”
The “Be Kind People Project” is dedicated to instilling kindness in children from a young age. They hold assemblies to share the “Be Kind” pledge and encourage students to be good to others.
“We use hip hop, we use dance, lots of interaction so the kids do think it’s cool to be kind,” said Saza Kent, the artistic director of Be Kind People Project.
The reason kindness can change lives is because it brings people back to the core of our need for social connection.
“We are social beings. It’s the concerns and the problems of the world that interfere with that,” Bartlett said. “And when we can cut through that, we remember our humanity, and the humanity of those around us.”
Random acts of kindness are not always completely random.
“We define kindness as intentionally extending good to others,” Kent said. “So maybe you’re picking random people to be kind to, but every act of kindness is very intentional on the part of the giver.”
For those suffering from depression and anxiety, taking the step to perform an act of kindness can be beneficial.
“I’m going to intentionally decide to do something for another person, that actually, for someone who is depressed, takes a lot of courage, you’re actually reaching out and connecting to another human being,” Bartlett said.
According to Brown, you can teach kindness, which is part of the reason for spreading Ben’s Bells around the state.
“Kindness, we like to say, is a skill. It’s not a part of your personality. You can get better at it. The more you practice it, the more innate it becomes,” she said.
“The most important thing is kindness is easy, it’s really not hard. And you will see the benefits of doing it right away, right before your eyes,” Kent said. “So, just be kind.”