There are certain made-up holidays I can get behind, including but not limited to National Taco Day, National Cat Day, International Yoga Day and, most recently, World Kindness Day. The latter didn’t even come on my radar until yesterday, during my morning meditation. I often use the Calm app and the focus for the day was lovingkindness, in which the meditator focuses on kindness for self, and then for others. We could all of course use a little or a lot of kindness 24/7 and 365 days of the year, but often we are quite the opposite toward ourselves and, unfortunately, others. Even in New Orleans, which is truly one of the kindest places I’ve ever known, people are sometimes, well, rude. C’est la vie, no? On our best days, we remind ourselves that everyone is going through something and we move on. But now, more than ever, as we all continue to live amid the pandemic, kindness is essential.

On this World Kindness Day, and hopefully every day going forward, I’m vowing to re-commit to random acts of kindness. My husband and I both look for ways to extend kindnesses to friends and strangers any time we can, but yesterday, I signed up for email reminders through Inspire Kindness, an organization out of Nashville, Tennessee, whose noble and ambitious mission it is to “Inspire the world’s largest kindness movement.” Visit the site for countless ideas on how you can spread kindness.

Here in New Orleans, we have ample opportunities to extend everyday kindnesses, such as assisting mobility challenged folks across treacherous sidewalks and streets riddled with potholes, giving tourists directions and suggestions on where to eat, gifting hard-won Mardi Gras beads and throws to children and inviting strangers to your crawfish boil. Beyond that, when time and budget permit, I like to buy extra takeout, snacks, water or socks to hand off to a homeless neighbor on my way home. Someone in the coffee drive through once bought me a coffee, so that’s one I love to do when I think of it, because I know how wonderful it feels to be on the receiving end. Sending an order of warm cookies from Insomnia Cookies, a plant from FAIT Nola or a meal via one of the many food delivery services in town is often welcome when a friend is dealing with one of life’s many struggles or, just because.

Under the heading of free: Giving compliments, offering to run errands or reaching out to loved ones are all easy to do and cost nothing. This month, I’ve been sending emails and texts of gratitude to people in my life as we lead up to Thanksgiving. I can’t count the number of times the other person has expressed how much it meant to them and how much they needed to hear it that day. This is a win-win for both parties.

We are living in stressful, tumultuous times with our routines, rituals and traditions altered or altogether vanished from our lives for the time being. Many of us are lonely, exhausted and depressed. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to one another. We all need it.