From paying for a stranger’s coffee to sending distant friends uplifting letters, Dani Saveker has performed an act of kindness every single day for almost three years.
We first met Dani back in February when she made a video diary detailing her progress, but now she’s about to celebrate one very big milestone: completing 1,000 acts of kindness. To mark the occasion she’s encouraging other people to follow her lead and complete an act of kindness every day for 21 days.
“My definition of kindness is ‘to give without exception or expectation’. With most of the kindness acts, I don’t know how the recipient will have received them,” the mum-of-three, from Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, tells HuffPost UK. “So when I do get feedback, it never ceases to make me realise how fortunate I am and makes me realise we need more connection in the world. It spurs me on.”
As CEO of GLAS Group, a company that provides support to business owners, Dani was interested in the idea that kindness is an essential component of successful leadership. The 46-year-old decided to complete an act of kindness each day throughout January 2016 as a research project, but it soon took over her life in a way that went far beyond the regular nine-to-five.
Within three weeks she realised her daily acts of kindness, such as leaving a note and a packet of sweets on a stranger’s car, felt undermined if she later gave into road rage because she’d had a tough afternoon. She carried on completing the acts, but also allowed kindness to seep into every aspect of her life.
“Something switched in me where I thought ‘if I’m going to commit to this, I need to commit to this properly,’” she explains. “Before I knew it I’d reached the end of the first year. I’d done 366 acts – it was a leap year – but more than that, it had changed the way I viewed things and there was a real shift in me.”
The biggest revelation for Dani has been how selfless acts can open up new possibilities. She’s made lasting friendships after reaching out to strangers via social media, such as when she connected with a woman called Nessa, who’d been detailing her struggle with anorexia online. Nessa posted to say she’d been admitted to an eating disorder ward for treatment and Dani sent a book –Brené Brown’s ‘Rising Strong’ – to the hospital, in the hope it would reach her.
“The next day on social media there was a photo of her with the book and she contacted me to say how much it had touched her that a stranger had reached out,” Dani recalls. ”She’s an inspiring woman facing terrible mental health problems, but if it just gave her one little bit of hope that somebody cared, I can’t ask for more than that.”
Although some of Dani’s acts of kindness, such as baking a cake for a friend, are planned, she also carries Post-It notes around with her, so she can brighten someone’s day whenever the mood strikes her.
“I’m also much more courageous than I perhaps was to start off with,” she says. “I will say something like ‘that dress is a beautiful colour on you’ and you can see somebody lifted by just a quick comment.”
Her newfound love of kindness has also rubbed off on her three children, Ben, 20, Max, 18, and Emmy, 11, who are each making efforts to help others in their lives. Emmy recently joined Dani on a tea party for the elderly, where she enjoyed listening to everyone’s stories.
“They got something out of it but so did she,” says Dani. “If I could ever ask anything of my children it would for for them to be responsible people and kind, [that’s worth] more than exam results.”
To mark her 1,000th act of kindness on 26 September, Dani would like to inspire even more people to complete daily acts of kindness. She’s created “Inspire Kindness Packs” to help newbies complete a 21-day kindness challenge, which include practical ideas plus tips on tricky areas, such as how to initiate conversation with a stranger. The packs contain two kits, one to be kept by the buyer and one they can gift to someone else.
“One of the nicest things I get told is that as a result of receiving kindness, someone goes on to be kind to someone else,” Dani says. “That is what this is all about, if I can inspire someone else to think about others, my job is complete.”