There seems to be so much negativity in the world today. It’s easy to get bogged down in social media warfare or to close yourself off to those around you. I’ve been trying to offset the negativity by recognizing the random acts of kindness that I see in my day-to-day life and doing random acts of kindness as often as possible.
It’s important to remember that acts of kindness don’t have to be extravagant. Often, they’re just simple courtesies that can brighten someone’s day. For example, just the other day, I stopped at a store that I don’t usually shop to pick up some batteries. They were $3 off with the store card, which I didn’t have. The guy behind me spoke up and offered to let me use his card.
It wasn’t a big deal, but it made my day. I was in a hurry and I didn’t have enough cash to pay for them without the discount. That coupled with the fact that it had been a stressful day made the small gesture a big blessing.
Why should you do random acts of kindness?
1. Common courtesy is becoming uncommon. Holding a door for someone or giving up your bus seat to an elderly person or a woman used to be expected. These days, it’s almost surprising. Doing either is such a simple gesture but is usually greatly appreciated by the recipient. Making a point of doing these simple random acts of kindness can bring common courtesy back.
2. It can brighten someone’s day. On a recent rainy Sunday, I parked the car and was getting ready to make a run for it. I had forgotten my umbrella because, you know, it wasn’t raining in my garage. As I was getting out of my car, the gentleman who parked next to me was opening his umbrella. He called out, “Would you like to share an umbrella?” Such a simple gesture, but it brightened my entire day – particularly since I didn’t have to sit in church, cold and wet.
3. It can cause a ripple effect. Sometimes a random act of kindness reminds others to pass it along. I remember hearing of a driver paying for the meal of the car behind him (or her) at a Chick-Fil-A. The person behind him, in turn, paid for the car behind him.
The Chick-Fil-A reported that this continued throughout their morning rush. Imagine how many people started off their day being blessed by a stranger and, in turn, blessing someone else. That kind of event can change the course of your entire day.
4. It makes the world a nicer place. If we all made an effort to be kinder to the people around us, the world couldn’t help but be a nicer place. Sometimes people just need a reminder that there is still kindness in the world to perpetuate that kindness.
5. It takes the focus off of us. I don’t know about y’all, but I have a strong tendency toward self-centeredness. Looking for opportunities to bless others is a good antidote for that.
6. It reminds people that someone cares. Sometimes, when you’re having a bad day, you just need to be reminded that you are noticed and that someone cares. My family went to lunch recently and noticed that our server was crying. Apparently, the group at the table next to us was giving her a really hard time. We gave her an extra nice tip and told her that we hoped her day got better. It was a little thing for us, but we could tell it really meant a lot to her.
7. Our kids are watching. Modeling kindness for our kids goes a long way to ensuring that the next generation understands the importance of being kind.
8. You never know what someone is going through. I remember years ago going to the pharmacy to pick up something for a relative who was in the final stages of cancer. When I left, I pulled out in traffic – but based on the behavior of the car behind me, I should have waited. The driver stayed right on my bumper, honking and carrying on almost the entire way home.
I try to keep that incident in mind now when someone does something that upsets me in traffic. It doesn’t always work, of course, but it often helps. Sometimes, an act of kindness is simply letting annoyances go, or letting someone pull out in traffic or go ahead of you in line.
9. It’s encouraging. I read a story on our local news page awhile back about a nursing student who purchased a nursing textbook at a used bookstore. When she got home, she discovered a note inside. It was from a nursing school graduate, written to encourage the future nurse now studying from the textbook. It also contained a coffee shop gift card – so the recipient could enjoy a coffee while studying. What a pleasant, encouraging surprise!
It meant so much to the nursing student who wound up with the book that she shared it on social media, and the post went viral – I think because it also encouraged and touched everyone who read the story.
10. It makes you a happier person. When we do random acts of kindness, we usually think of how they’re going to bless or encourage the person we’re doing them for – and they do – but I’ve found that it usually blesses and encourages me just as much, if not more, than the person I’m trying to bless. Well, except that day my sister surprised me with supper. I think that made me happier than it made her.
Random acts of kindness don’t have to be extravagant to be meaningful. It’s the little things – be kind, y’all!