Vikki Nicometo turned 49 a week after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012. On that birthday, she just didn’t have it in her to celebrate the way she usually did—lunch, movie, shopping with her daughter.
“At the time, I wasn’t particularly happy in general,” recalls Vikki, a 2016 Certificate in Positive Psychology (CiPP) graduate and a life coach. “Nothing was really wrong in my life, but I just wasn’t enjoying life, either. And then the shootings broke my already heavy heart.”
The morning of her birthday, while sitting in meditation, Vikki was struck by an idea: She would spend the day doing one random act of kindness for each of the 26 people killed in Newtown.
“It felt a bit overwhelming, so I took to Facebook and asked my friends and family to help me reach my goal,” she remembers. “Each act of kindness that a friend or family member did counted toward my 26. It gave them a way to honor and celebrate my birthday with me.”
By the end of the day, Vikki had far exceeded her goal—and she had created a new birthday ritual that she’s done every year since. Her powerful experience that day also inspired her final project for CiPP.
“When I learned we were going to do a final project, I knew that I wanted to turn my annual birthday tradition into a movement,” Vikki says. “I wanted others to experience the feelings of joy and connectivity that doing acts of kindness provides.”
One Kind Day —A Social Network Powered Kindness Happiness Movement uses the power of social media and relationships to create more happiness in the world, by supporting people to do just what Vikki did: select a day that has significance for them and enlist friends and family to perform acts of kindness throughout the day. It’s a user-friendly format that has the potential to spread a potent principle of positive psychology—that helping others makes us happier—to hundreds of thousands of people.
The turning point Vikki experienced on that 49th birthday came after a tough decade. “I’d experienced some major midlife traumas—divorce number two, the death of my mom, my only child left the nest, and the final straw was losing my job,” she says. “I hadn’t been truly happy in a long time.”
After discovering the enormous positive impact of practicing and sharing random acts of kindness, Vikki was ready to set herself a new, much more ambitious goal: to be happy by the time she was 50. She began to study happiness, discovered and fell in love with positive psychology, and enrolled in CiPP. As she approached the half-century mark, she found that she was becoming a better coach, with new tools to offer her clients; she was growing kinder and more tolerant in her relationships; and she was simply happier, even though nothing had changed externally. And a huge part of that, she says, is practicing kindness and encouraging others to do the same.
“I love to see the awesome boost in positive emotion that people get when doing acts of kindness, when receiving them, and when witnessing them,” Vikki says. “I believe that happier people are kinder, more helpful people. I believe that when we are happy, we are less prone to violence. My goal is truly world peace and happiness. It is an aspirational goal, to be sure, but it is one I hope for.”
Find out more about the Certificate in Positive Psychology.
Vikki Nicometo is a certified life coach trained by Martha Beck, and a 2015 graduate of WBI’s Certificate in Positive Psychology. She is the creator of the coaching programs Ignite Your Passion, Live Your Purpose™, designed to help clients get clear about they really want and design a plan to get there; and Body GLOW™ (Gratitude, Love & Optimal Well-Being), designed for those looking to make peace with their body and with food. Prior to becoming a life coach, Vikki spent nearly 20 years in recruiting and training, including working in Fortune 100 companies.