FORGET looking forward to being spoilt on your birthday – one Hampshire author and mum is celebrating her birthday today by performing acts of kindness for other people.

Cheryl Rickman from Chandler’s Ford is planning on carrying out 43 acts of kindness today, in honour of her own mother, who died when she was 43.

Among the acts of kindness Cheryl is planning are: paying in advance for coffees for the people behind her in the queue, giving out flowers to other parents on the school run, high-fiving a stranger, give out hugs to strangers, volunteer somewhere and leaving notes with positive affirmations in library books.

Cheryl, author of self-help book The Flourish Handbook and a positive psychology practitioner, came up with the idea as a way of honouring her mum and helping her cope with what she feels would otherwise be a difficult day for her.

“My mum, Denise, passed away from septicaemia and pneumonia after battling with multiple sclerosis for more than 20 years,” says Cheryl.

“But she was always so positive and smiley – she was well known around Fair Oak village, where we lived, as being very kind-hearted, so this seemed like a good way to honour her.

“There is also research to suggest that kindness is very beneficial to the person giving it, as well as the recipient, and that chunking lots of acts of kindness together is better at boosting your wellbeing than, for example, doing one kind thing a week.”

She adds: “I always thought that turning 43 would be weird and melancholy as it’s the age that my mum was when she died, so it will be interesting to sense if the acts of kindness cheer me up and help me move onto the next chapter of my life, when I’ll be the same age as or older than my mum was.”

While religious and individual philanthropy has a long history, the popularity of so-called random acts of kindness, in which specific acts are performed for strangers, often anonymously, has been growing around the world, and there is even a Random Acts of Kindness Day, on February 17.

Cheryl will be combining random acts of kindness with ones for people who she knows and who are important in her life.

Cheryl has some experience of carrying out acts of kindness before. She did a sponsored ‘hugathon’, in which she offered hugs to strangers, and every spring gives out bunches of daffodils to friends and other school run parents.

But today’s birthday challenge will be on quite a different scale, and has taken a lot of planning to fit all the acts of kindness in.

Cheryl is budgeting around £100 to spend on the acts, which also include buying a hot drink for a homeless person, paying for parking tickets for strangers, donating to charity and giving art materials to a local school, but is keen to emphasise that many of the acts cost nothing.

She is aware that some people in receipt of an act of kindness from a stranger may think that she is a little odd, but says that it’s important not to let that put you off.

“You have to not worry and hope that you will have a positive effect,” she says, adding “My mum had MS but she still had a smile on her face. She accepted that she had her down days but she was always very positive. It’s important to realise that we only live once and to try to make the most of every day, to find some good in it and to try to do some good.”

Cheryl adds that in the current global climate, it feels especially important to be kind to others.

“There is so much bad news and horrible stuff going on at the moment, so it’s good to do what we can to counter that and to reach out and connect to other humans,” she says.

Cheryl hopes her acts of kindness may inspire others to carry out their own acts of kindness.

“It doesn’t take much to be kind,” she says.

“Even doing one act a day or a week is amazing.

“It may sound cliche, but if you can make one person smile, that’s a good day.”

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