The season of giving is a perfect time to get in the habit of performing random acts of kindness. Paying it forward is becoming a popular thing to do at places like the Starbucks drive-thru, but, with a little thought, random kindness can be given in almost any situation and doesn’t have to cost a penny!
Paying attention to the world around us is the first step in practicing kindness. It is easy to be wrapped up in our own little corners of the world, and to be oblivious to what others are going through. Our minds race with thoughts of what we need to get done, our own wants and desires, and a thousand different dialogues of what might or might not happen. Stop all that senseless spinning and be present in the moment. Being aware is necessary if a person wants to spread kindness.
Generosity does not necessarily have anything to do with money! We can be generous with our time, our smiles, our encouraging words. These are all more powerful than money, and provide lasting memories. An old saying says that a person may not remember what you did for them but they will always remember how you made them feel. Make someone feel better by offering a genuine smile. You might be the only person who smiles at them.
Kindness can also come in the form of forgiveness, tolerance, or patience. It may require more than a little effort to stay calm when someone cuts in front of us, but remember that everyone has their own story. We don’t know why they are in such a big hurry or so distracted. The person who seems to be giving us a dirty look may instead be completely absorbed in their own tremendous problems. Or sleepy, or sick, or in some sort of pain.
This is not to downplay random acts of kindness that involve money. There are so many people who need a helping hand, and we should step up to assist them to the best of our ability. Just a few dollars can make all the difference to someone who is down and out with no one to help them. Even the Starbucks-type kindness of paying for the next person in line can change an individual’s entire take on their day.
One random act of kindness a day for a month can lead to a lifelong habit of looking out for the wellbeing of others. We might even find it is hard to stop at one a day when opportunities present themselves everywhere we look!