Have you ever been touched by a random act of Kindness, the kind that comes unexpectedly from a stranger?
I have, and I still remember some of those moments that touched my heart. When I was a young mother with a husband in Vietnam and a very tight budget, I remember standing in line counting out pennies for a gallon of milk, when the checker smiled at me and said, “Keep your money, I’ll take care of it. Go home and enjoy that little one.” I left with tears in my eyes. At the time I was working retail and a few months later things were a little better and there was another young mother counting out coins to buy a pair of socks for her baby, I did the same thing and will never forget her smile back at me.
When I posted yesterday about Mike the Mailman and how his kindness affected people I had no idea it was Random Acts of Kindness Week. Sometimes an act of kindness can be as simple as just smiling at a stranger. Psychology Today reports that this simple act can sometimes affect a person for years to come. I remember my first trip to New York about 30 years ago. I was walking with a friend who lived there and I was smiling at everyone….and they were smiling back, well, most of them at least. Paul looked at me and said “You can’t do that here. People in New York don’t like strangers smiling at them.” I laughed at him and pointed out that was obviously not true because they were smiling back. Don’t ever let someone tell you it’s not appropriate to share kindness or love in the world. Sure, not everyone will respond or be able to let it in, but some will…and you not only warm their hearts, but yours as well.
When the book Pay it Forward came out, I was dashing to catch a plane when I saw the book prominently displayed in the Book Store. I was drawn to it powerfully…and I did something I don’t think I had ever done before…I paid full price for a hard-back novel a full $24.95! The story was a little sappy, but the message of paying it forward by doing a kindness for three other people really resonated with me. What would the world be like if we all did this on a regular basis?
One thing that I’ve done for years is to save all the toiletries from hotel visits, then I add trial size tooth paste and travel toothbrushes and donate them to a local homeless or battered woman shelter and donate them. Oftentimes people come to them with nothing, and a nice shampoo or bar of soap can feel luxurious.
Random Acts of Kindness.Org has an inspiring list of simple things you can do for others. They even posted a list for this week to help you get started.
Monday, Feb 11—Smile at 10 strangers.
Tuesday, Feb 12—Buy something for the person in the line behind you.
Wednesday, Feb 13—Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
Thursday, Feb 14—Bring a treat to a neighbor or your co-workers.
Friday, Feb 15—Donate your time or money to a local charity.
Saturday, Feb 16—Cook a healthy meal.
Sunday, Feb 17—Let someone go in front of you in line.
But don’t stop there, here are some more ideas: Clean Up Graffiti, Donate Used books to the library, give carepacks to the homeless, give the elderly a gift of music…. Browse their database of kindness ideas and try the ones that speak to you. Find ideas to share with friends and colleagues, offer your own ideas, or seek inspiration in their inspirational kindness quotes. Here are some inspiring videos the Random Acts of Kindness website and from Huffington Post.
There are so very many great ideas…so how do you get started?
Start off just by smiling at people.
I was once in NYC walking with a friend, and I was smiling at people…and they were smiling back! So don’t believe everything you are told, even New Yorkers appreciate a smile….No, they won’t All smile back, but let your heart be warmed by the ones who do.
In our stressful times, it’s so easy for people to give up hope or begin to believe that all the horrors we see on the news is just the way life is. Restore your belief in humanity by seeing that’s not all there is, there is kindness in the world…but someone has to get it started. Think about acts of kindness that have touched you…then go forth and share the love.