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Random Acts of Kindness

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Random Acts of Kindness

“The everyday kindnesses of the back roads make up for the acts of greed in the headlines.”  (Charles Kuralt)


Because the world has become so hectic and self-absorbed, small acts of kindness can have monumental impact.  Unexpected and asking no reward, the acts themselves are their own compensation, for they leave the recipients feeling valued and uplifted.  Why, then, don’t we practice them more often?  They are certainly easy enough, and include:


  • Holding a door open for a stranger: a mother with a baby in a stroller, a handicapped person, someone
        struggling with packages, or just the person entering the store, restaurant, or office building after you,


  • Allowing someone to get ahead of you on line in a store,


  • Offering your extra discount coupons to someone shopping in the same place,


  • Giving way to another vehicle on the road, whose driver may truly have a pressing need, such as a
        child waiting to be picked up from daycare, 


  • Paying for the coffee or the toll of the person behind you,


  • Running errands for an elderly neighbor who doesn’t get out much,


  • Walking and/or feeding your neighbor’s pet when he is working late,


  • Shoveling your neighbor’s walkway in inclement weather, or


  • Returning a lost wallet.


Recently, I had the opportunity to perform that last act, which cost me nothing but a phone call.   One of my customers left his money clip on the counter of the store where I work.  Because his driver’s license was in the clip, I knew who he was, but was unable to find him listed in the telephone directory.  He comes in quite frequently, but I did not want to wait as he’d left his money behind along with his license.  I knew about how frantic I would feel if I had lost my wallet and its contents, so I called the police for assistance.


A few days later, my grateful customer returned to the store to thank me, as the police had told him that I was the one who had found the clip.  He had not even realized it was missing until the police came to his house to return it.  My customer gave me a card in a sealed envelope, which I did not open immediately.  When I finally did, I was quite surprised to find a reward inside, just for doing what was right.


When the man came back to the store later that week, I told him that I did not want the money.  He insisted that I keep it.  Although this situation happened to reap an unforeseen monetary reward, most acts of kindness are performed simply because we treat others as we hope to be treated.


Sometimes, fear of the unknown holds us back from being kinder to people.  One of the first lessons we learned as children was the admonition not to talk to strangers.   For instance, we might overanalyze the results of helping someone in obvious need, such as a homeless person.  We worry that he may attack us, or we fear hurting his pride if he has not asked for our help.  Instead of feeding our fears, we can step outside of our compartmentalized selves long enough to imagine how terrible it must be to be homeless, cold, and hungry.  Once we consider those things, and how blessed we are in comparison, it becomes easy to give a dollar or two, a blanket, or a meal that, even from a fast food chain, would probably seem like a feast.  A small kindness will give a homeless person a measure of comfort and restore, at least temporarily, his faith in a world that he must surely believe no longer cares about him.


We never know when the tide may turn and we may be in need of some type of assistance.  Only when we work together to uplift the spirits of others can we make this world a more peaceful and happy place.  To help reach this goal, you may want to consider the following quotes that really strike at the heart of the matter:


“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
(Ralph Waldo Emerson, who must have known a thing or two about regret.)


“So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all this sad world needs.”
(Ella Wheeler Wilcox)


“Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.”


If you would like more on kindness and how to spread it, you may want to visit http://www.actsofkindness.org/.

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