“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” -Aesop
The older I get the more I am aware of the chaos of life. Everyone is so rushed and stressed. We become so wrapped up in our own life issues, wants, and desires that it is often easy to disregard those around us. It is always disappointing when I see someone enter a building and let the door shut behind them rather than take two extra seconds and hold it for those around them. I see servers in restaurants treated with disrespect from demanding patrons. Cashiers in the checkout line that don’t even get a “hello” from their customer who is busily chatting or texting away on their phone. It has become a very selfish world and it makes me sad that this it the kind or world my boys are growing up in.
I decided when I was blessed with sons that it was my responsibility to raise these boys into gentlemen. Men with integrity that young ladies would be proud to bring home to their parents. The boy who stands up and offers their seat to a standing lady or elderly person. From the time they were old enough to open a door they were taught to ALWAYS hold it until everyone around them had entered or exited. I am always shocked (okay maybe even appalled) at the number of people who will go through a door being held open for them without even a simple “thank-you”. These are simple life lessons called “manners”. Unfortunately it appears that too many are immersed in their own world that they don’t take the time to use the manners they were once taught.
I am so thankful I had parents that raised my sisters and I to have manners and never be too busy to use them on a daily basis. I still vividly remember when my great-grandmother was in a nursing home. She had daily visitors but there were many who had no one. That was such a sad thought. My sisters and I spent an entire night making pictures to deliver to the residents of the nursing home on our next visit. We were so proud walking in with our stack of “masterpieces”. The smiles on their faces said it all. The very simple act of an amateur drawing and a quick visit was probably the highlight of their month. This is what I want to instill in my boys…to be inspired daily to help make life a little bit fuller for someone else.
Today as we were leaving a store I saw an elderly lady unloading her cart into her car. I asked my oldest, Ben, to offer to take her cart back. He didn’t even hesitate or question my request. I heard him say “Mam, if you’d like I’ll take your cart for you.” She replied “that would be very nice, do you work here?” When she pulled out of the parking lot she slowed down to give Ben a big smile and I glanced at him to see a content, humble smile on his face too. The cool thing about random acts of kindness, or “niceness” as my Luke calls them, is that it makes the person doing it as fulfilled as the person receiving it.
Many years ago the church we were attending did an amazing project called “The Kingdom Assignment”. It is simply a call to action to go out into the world and do something with the talent, time, or money, you have been blessed with. That was a monumental experience for my husband and I. We have always felt incredibly blessed beyond what we deserve. This project prompted us to find ways to do for others with what we had been given. I had so many take-aways from that project and I often go back and reread the stories of all the random acts that were performed and I become inspired all over again. Back then one random act of kindness my husband and I decided to commit to was to ALWAYS pick up the bill whenever we saw a service person dining out. So now whenever we see one of our amazing military in uniform we anonymously pay their bill. It doesn’t matter if there is one person or 20, we treat them to a meal. It is such a simple gesture that doesn’t even begin to compare to the sacrifices they make for us on a daily basis. It is our hope that they leave knowing that someone truly appreciates and respects their service and sacrifice.
This has become our “thing” and I love when we get the chance to do it. But random acts don’t have to cost you anything. It can be the simplest thing, like returning the cart for someone in the parking lot. There have been a few times when my hands are full between kids, car keys, and groceries and it means so much to me when a kind stranger grabs my cart for me.
Here are some simple ideas to inspire you:
- Take your neighbors trash cans up to their garage
- Let someone with a few items cut in front of you in line at the check-out
- Pay for coffee or ice cream for the customer in line behind you
- Put change in vending machines
- Leave a book you have finished somewhere for someone else to find and read
- Surprise a friend or neighbor with cookies
- Load up the kid’s wagon with a cooler of popsicles and make deliveries to all the neighborhood kids
- Hand out cold bottles of water at the park on a hot day
- Rake your neighbor’s yard
- Shovel your neighbors driveway
- Send a card to an old friend or family member just because
- Send flowers to a friend and brighten their day
- Leave a magazine or book at the airport for someone else to read
- Drop off a treat for the staff at your doctor, dentist, or optometrist’s office
- Buy something at the farmer’s market and let the hardworking vendor keep the change
- Write a hand-written note to someone and let them know how important they are in your life
- Invite someone over for dinner
- Send a small gift to someone anonymously
- Visit with someone in the nursing home who doesn’t receive many visitors
- Send flowers to the hospital to be received by someone who hasn’t had any visitors
- Ask your cashier/waitress/etc. how their day is going….and then LISTEN
- Ask to speak to the manager of a store/restaurant/business and compliment the service you have received
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Buy dessert for someone you see dining alone
- Buy lemonade from the neighbor kid with an entrepreneurial spirit and give them a little tip
- Leave a love note for your spouse
- Leave an encouraging note in your child’s lunch box
- Compliment somebody
- Write a letter of appreciation to your child’s teacher or principal
- Reward a server with an unusually larger tip
- Donate books to a local library
- Put $ on a gas pump for the next customer
- Pick up trash
- Surprise someone with their favorite home-made treat
- Hold the door for everyone…..and do it with a SMILE 🙂
Just think what a happier place are children would grow up in if every one of us made it a priority to do at least one of these things each and every day! Good deeds spur good deeds and positive acts inspire more positive acts. So I challenge you….make random acts of “niceness” a part of your everyday living. I promise it is worth taking a few extra minutes every day to put a smile on someone’s face…..and I will pretty much guarantee it will put a SMILE on your face too!
What random acts of “niceness” have you been on the giving or receiving end of?