Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

I was reading my August "Family Circle" magazine today when a small article caught my eye. The title was "Happy Days", and this is all it said:

"A new nonprofit program aims to raise awareness of the importance of spreading joy, optimism and good deeds. Now through the end of August individuals and groups can enter by uploading photos or stories of themselves completing "Random Acts of Happiness" at actsofhappiness.com. Visitors can vote once a day for their favorite person or team, and each vote triggers a $1 donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters. A grand prize of $10,000 will be given to an individual and $20,000 to a group winner."

That made me think. How do you feel about random acts of kindness? Have you ever paid for something for the person in line behind you? Brought lunch to a friend? Do you feel acts of kindness should be reserved for people in need? Have you ever been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness? Do you tell others when you do some out of the ordinary, or do you keep it to yourself? Do you teach your children to reach out to others? Do you ever feel "compelled" to do something?

Here are some of my thoughts:
I think we should always be alert to the needs of others, whether by common acts of courtesy (opening a door, etc) or seeing a greater need. Sometimes it's fun to pay for something for a stranger unexpectedly, and I have done that on occasion. I also think it is important to randomly surprise those among us who are a little better off financially, because these folks are often the givers and rarely the receivers of small kindnesses. Everyone, regardless of their financial position, likes to be  shown kindness and appreciation.
Seldom do I ever say anything to anyone when I do something random, unless I tell a family member or close friend, and that is usually only if the response I received was special enough to share. I do think we need to teach our children to be aware of opportunities to reach out to others, whether that person is homeless or living in a mansion. The best way to do this is by example.
I try to keep a few dollar bills in my car so I always have a couple of bucks to share if I feel the need. I keep telling myself to keep some nonperishable food items, such as peanut butter crackers, in the car, too, but so far I haven't remembered to buy any!
I have also benefitted from the kindnesses of others so many times, whether those acts were random or not. Many times my load has been lightened by another's compassion. Sometimes a smile or kind word, sometimes something much more substantial, all deeply appreciated.
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences on this topic! Please share in the comments!

Just a side note: I have been reading "Family Circle" since the first month I married, 39 years ago, when it was 25-cents a copy, and sometimes that quarter was hard to come by! I've never missed an issue!


Roxanna said...

Wow. The fact that you haven't missed an issue is awesome. I have always thought about random acts of kindness. I have been through the line where someone has paid for the person behind them but that hasn't happened to me yet. I keep telling my husband that I would love to do that for someone. Haven't done it yet though. I'd love to bless someone with a Starbucks Coffee or paying for their drive-thru order. Now, I had complimentary tickets given to me and my husband from some friends to go to the Aquarium. That was done just out of kindness. There wasn't a note or a card, just the tickets given, because of random acts of kindness. Awesome. I didn't think about keeping non-perishables in the car. I should do that. You never know when you will run across someone wanting money for food or hungry and could give them some crackers or such. Great idea!

Brenda said...

Kathy, you always exemplify the total meaning of the word "KINDNESS"!
I can't even begin to express how many days that you uplifted me by your encouraging words and thoughtfulness. Our classes of children at Gloria Dei were truly
blessed by both yours' and Jonathan's generosity. You truly have inspired me to strive towards
being a kinder and more aware person. God Bless You!