It’s time for the second random acts of kindness project round up. The overwhelming feedback on this project has been positive but I have been really sad to discover that there has been some negative criticism. I just want to take a minute to share with you what I talked about in my yoga class yesterday.
These acts of kindness aren’t meant to change the world. They are meant to create subtle shifts in mindsets. That means getting out of your own head and opening your eyes to see how you can live your day to day life in a more kind and loving way. Yes, the “buy the person behind you coffee” thing has become a little cliche but that small gesture might bring a smile to someone’s face and create a small shift in their mindset for the day. In an ideal world we would have unlimited funds and time to support all of the worthy causes out there but that is simply not the reality of life.
Life is beautiful. Life is messy. Life is complicated. Unimaginable things happen that make us question everything. In the wake of these unimaginable tragedies (like Sandy Hook), we look for things that make us feel good. Things that make us feel like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. Oftentimes a sense of community and the belief that you’re part of a community that is working to focus on good and positive can be comforting, uplifting and empowering. We have to focus on living each day to its fullest and treating everyone we encounter with respect and love.
What is the point of tearing down people and communities? What is the point of judging the actions of others, especially when they were done with kind and loving intentions? Tell me how that uplifts any person or community? It doesn’t. And I don’t know how it can possibly feel good to judge someone for doing something nice, even if it is just buying someone a cup of coffee.
I tell my yoga classes over and over again. Do good, be good, follow the path of things that make you feel good and focus on seeing good in everything you do. This is how we lift up not only ourselves but also our friends, families and communities. Your life will take the shape of the energy you put out into the universe…good or bad.
Did you know that this is Random Act of Kindness Week? Check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s site for more details and ideas. I love the range of activities they suggest. There’s everything from “pay for the person behind you” to “read to the elderly” to “be kind to someone you dislike.” There are pages and pages of ideas to read through.
All that said, here’s round up number two. I hope you enjoy and that it brings some warmth to your heart.
1. Sierra G. - Bake Cookies for a neighbor you haven’t met. I live in a high rise condo building in Chicago, so instead of leaving cookies at a random door, I sent them in an empty elevator. I just placed a bag of delicious cookie in the elevator with a note about the 26 Acts of Kindness and said a prayer that they would find their way into someone who needed to hear the message and could use a sweet pick me up.
As of this morning, kindness is overabundant. We were checking on our envelopes to see if any needed to be refilled or were even being used. In one particular envelope, not only were a few $1 bills there but there was also a $20 bill. While my sister-in-law is resting this afternoon, her mother and I are going to head over to the Target and use the $20 to get the stuff to make up kits to hand out to those in need. We are also going to grab some Hershey kisses that are the mixed chocolates called the hugs so that we can leave those around the hospital for anyone needing a “hug.”
Thank you for thinking of doing this as it has become quite contagious and has helped us think of others during an otherwise stressful time. We are channelling our nervous energy and realizing how easy it is to do just a little something to make another person’s life better.
4. Susanne H. - I was excited when I saw your post about the Random Acts of Kindness to honor those that lost their lives that tragic day, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it! I wasn’t sure what my random act was going to be, but I couldn’t wait to do it! I remember sitting at church that next Sunday, and when they passed the bucket around for a collection, I felt a tug on my heart that I needed to donate! I don’t always carry around cash (actually very rarely), but I had recently been to the ATM and knew I had a $20 in my wallet. Not that this was my “random act of kindness” because my husband and I want to tithe on a regular basis…and we haven’t been! But the act did feel good and I’m not sure I would have felt that nudge or reminder otherwise.
Later that week I had a pretty terrible start to the day. It started with leaving my neighborhood on my commute to work (this was in the middle of the days full of rain and no sun), when my car started to slow down on it’s own, and then I noticed my engine light came on (which I later found out through my manual it’s actually called the car malfunction light…how appropriate). No matter how hard I pushed my foot on the pedal, my car would not speed up. Of course I think it’s dying (it’s 11 years old) and start freaking out. We just bought a new car so we couldn’t afford a 2nd new car! It was raining, I was going to be late for work, I didn’t know what to do. I putt-putted my way out of the neighborhood and turned into the local oil change shop close to our house (at this point my car was sending out a not-so-good smell). I thought maybe they could look at it when they opened. Well, it was 6:30 AM and they didn’t open until 8:00. After sitting there for a little while (in the dark and in the rain), I started to think I probably needed to get it to the dealership. I called my insurance company, got them to send a tow truck (thank goodness a few months ago I added roadside assistance to my insurance plan, well worth the extra $5 per 6 months!), and got towed to the dealership. I dropped it off, picked up a rental car, and made it to work about 3 hours later. Of course in my head they are going to call me and say my car is done and will cost more to fix than it’s worth (if you haven’t noticed yet, I’m pretty good at worrying). Later that day, I got an email from a fellow group fitness instructor making sure I was still set to teach with her at 5:30 that night…..I had thought we were teaching at 6:30! Had she not emailed me to confirm, I would have showed up at the gym at 6:15, ready to teach, and would have totally missed the class. That definitely would have topped off my day! But her email started to turn the day around – now i wasn’t going to miss the class. And then I got a call from the dealership, and my car could be fixed and though it’d still cost me a little bit of money, it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be! My day was turning around, and it was then that I knew I needed to perform my random act of kindness soon! I thought I owed it to someone :).
5. Paige B. - Recently the hallway just outside my apartment was repainted. Before, it was dingy and utilitarian; now, it is a warm, welcoming shade of brown that I enjoy seeing each time I come or go. So for my random act of kindness, I left a thank-you note for the paint crew!
6. Shanna O. – Since getting my assignment, I kept racking my brain for the ‘perfect’ act of kindness. I don’t know why I wasn’t thinking more from the heart from the get go. That’s when it dawned on me that kindness is felt not thought. I decided to buy 2 dozen donuts for work because one of my favorite joys as a child was going to the store with my Grandpa and choosing our donuts to eat (usually chocolate on chocolate). I’m hoping that they bring a moment of joy to each that has one and perhaps that person will perpetuate their own act of kindness.
7. Ann Marie E. - Last night I purchased a $10 gift card at Whole Foods, attached it to a note, and left it in a shopping basket near the front of the store. I hope whoever receives it truly does ‘pay it forward’.
8. Jill F. - For my act of kindness I left a 5$ gift card to Starbucks for my mail lady. Thanks for organizing this, it was fun to read ideas online and come up with something to do. Some of the ideas online were amazing! I am hoping to keep this up and do a random act of kindness once a month.
10. Allie W. – I live in NYC and one of my favorite running routes is down by the East River. Early morning runs offer some gorgeous views of NYC just waking up, and it’s always a very peaceful run. While it’s 100% safe, there is a large homeless population that sleeps by the river under partially covered pavilions that line the path.One morning I noticed someone lifting weights under one of the pavilions– he was hardly dressed for the cold temperature (and much less so for weight lifting), but there he was, getting in an early morning workout. I was so inspired by his dedication that I wanted to help, but since I was running, I didn’t have anything to give him. So I decided for my random act of kindness that I would leave some warm clothes in the pavilion I spotted him in– I put together a bag filled with socks, a coat, hat, hand warmers, and gloves, and left it on the bench under the pavilion.I don’t know if he’ll find them or if someone else will, but hopefully the person who finds the bag is someone who needs them to stay warm this winter. Running the mile and a half to the drop-off spot with the bag was a bit of a challenge- but I kept thinking of the man lifting weights to put my small inconvenience in perspective. I’m lucky to be able to run and have warm running clothes- and now, hopefully, he’ll be a bit warmer too!
11. Becca P. - Walked my friends dog while she was out on a cold rainy night.12. Krista L. - I paid for the person behind me at Chick fil A. I don’t have a picture because I felt strange about taking a picture of the drive thru person. (I agree, that could be awkward :))13. Mickelle M. - For my random act of kindness I paid for the car behind me at Starbucks a few days ago. I gave the Barsita a piece of paper to give to them with the Sandy Hook message.
16. Mary Heather - For my act of kindness, I wanted to do something that would be random and free (as an extra challenge to myself, as most of the initial ideas I had involved me buying something for another person – also great acts of kindness, but I enjoyed brainstorming more until I thought of something that didn’t cost anything but time). I also wanted my act to be anonymous while I was doing it (until this post is published of course). After thinking for a while, I realized that I could perform an act of kindness for my neighborhood by picking up litter. I brought an extra bag with me when I went out with my dog Charlie for his walk. It’s a two-mile loop, and I picked up every piece of litter I saw. By the end of the walk, I’d gathered a small bag full of trash – mostly crushed cans and fast-food wrappers. I snapped a picture (attached) before throwing it away. I realized that this is the type of act I can easily keep up, and now plan to regularly bring along an extra bag when I’m out walking my dog.
17. Megan C. -I attend The Ohio State University and it has been frigid outside lately, so for my act I decided to warm up someone’s cold January day with a few bucks to buy a cup of coffee. I taped this note up on a campus bathroom mirror with the hopes of adding a little sunshine to someone’s day!One of my favorite quotes is, “If you light a lamp for someone else, it will also brighten your path.” And I can definitely say that I felt a sense of optimism, positivity, and love all day just by doing ONE simple random act of kindness. Imagine the impact this movement could create…incredible. God bless the children and families of Sandy Hook18. Parita K. - After thinking about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it, I decided to (anonymously) leave a $5 Starbucks gift card inside the main copy machine at work (along with the note of course). I chose to do this because the people I work with are incredibly warm and caring. And they welcomed me with open arms when I joined the company back in July, which meant a lot to me. I’ve noticed that many of the people I work with are stuck indoors the entire day. I thought it would be nice for whoever found the gift card to get outside and enjoy a beverage of their choice, all while enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery!
19. Lindsay M. - I decided to use my random act of kindness to pay for someone’s gas one morning on the way to work. I was waiting in line inside the QT before work and was behind a mom with three young kids. She was a little frustrated that they wouldn’t stand still while waiting their turn, but I could tell she was trying hard to be patient. When I heard her ask to prepay for $20 worth of gas, I spoke up and told the cashier to put it on my bill. I gave the woman a slip of paper with the info you sent us and told her that I wanted to do something nice for her and her children. I could tell that the woman was grateful not only for the kindness of a stranger but also for children, even in their morning chaos. :). Made my heart happy and reminded me to look for daily opportunities to surprise others with kindness.
20. Anna S. - Wanted to start off by thanking you for putting this together! Really made me think about things I do in my day to day life. With that said here is my random act: After a date night with my boyfriend we were headed home. At our last stoplight before we got onto the highway there was a homeless man standing and holding a sign asking for help. We had just stuffed ourselves with pizza and had the leftovers in the car. We couldn’t help but feel guilty that he was standing out in the cold and we were full and warm in our car. I suggested that we give him the leftover pizza. Next thing I know Ryan rolled down his window and gave the man the box. He could not have been more grateful and said to us “Every little bit helps!”
I have never done anything like this before but I have to say it made both of us feel pretty good that such a small act could put a smile on someone’s face.
21. Christie S. - I always go through the self checkouts at Jewel (grocery store) because they are 1. quick 2. fun. This time around, when the customer ahead of me was searching for their wallet, I took out my wallet and swiped for her. Although her total was nothing significant, she gladly gave me a hug as I passed her my act of kindness note. Such a little act brings such a warming feeling to my heart. I hope to continue and remind myself of such acts of kindness on a regular basis
22. Brittany R. - I don’t have a picture but for my random act of kindness I left a Starbucks gift card at my grad school’s library with the following note: “In honor of the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I’m part of a movement that’s performing 26 random acts of kindness. You are #23. Take a study break, grab a coffee on me and be grateful for this day.”
23. Allison P. - I live in New York City and decided to walk to my workout class to enjoy the beautiful weather. While I’m on my way, I see a Dunkin Donuts up ahead and a man at the top of the entrance ramp cursing under his breath. He was an elderly man in a power chair and couldn’t get into Dunkin because the store did not have an automatic door at the top of the entrance ramp and his power chair prevented him from leaning over and opening the door. He was stuck. I’m thankful that I was put in the right place at the right time and could be an instrument of kindness for this gentleman through an action so simple as opening the door.
24. Christie R. - I have a friend that is halfway into her first pregnancy and struggling to find clothes that she feels comfortable in and that she can afford (her husband was laid off last month). As my random act of kindness I decided to send all of my pregnancy clothes to her. She hasn’t received them yet, but I am so excited for her to. I’m hopeful that some of it will work out for her and make her feel more comfortable and confident.
25. Danielle L. – 1) I helped out a neighbour in my building who was trying to move in with his difficult to maneuver furniture. He was pleasantly surprised by my offer! 2) A fellow student I recently met in class had surgery this past week. I sent her a note to let her know I was thinking of her!
26. Larissa - For our act of kindess I wanted to get my two daughters involved as well. So my 4.5 year old (Taylor) and I created some Happy 2013 greeting cards with stickers, glue, paint, markers, crayons – the whole nine yards. My daughter was in charge of thinking up the wording inside and the cards included sayings like “Smile”, “Be Happy”, “Hugs from me”. We then packed them all up with the card informing them that we created these cards in honor of the 26 people lost at Sandy Hook. Taylor had a huge smile on her face and talked the whole way about how exciting this was. We brought them to a local nursing home that is located very close to our home, unfortunately with the flu epidemic at the level it is we couldn’t actually see any of the patients. The woman at the front desk was so excited to hand out the cards, and really made sure my daughter felt very special. We brought along my 6 month old (Abby) thinking her contribution could be the big smiles she hands out. We then headed out with our hearts feeling so full and Taylor kept asking if she thought the “old people like her Nana” liked the cards.
The truth about our act of kindness is that it really brought us so much more than I ever imagined. Taylor was so proud and excited to create and hand out the cards and it was a fun activity that brought us together. It also was a great opportunity for us to talk about how we can care for one another and be kind to one another. I hope that the cards brought a fraction of the amount of joy it brought to my family. Thank you Jen for putting this together, it was a ray of light in a cold dreary Chicago winter.