Random Acts of being Kind 2012


In 2011 I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and I was inspired. I wanted to do things to make people happy and to do things my kids could help with.

This quote really stuck with me:

“Do all the good you can, and make as little fuss about it as possible.”

 

-Charles Dickens

It reminds me of the verse in the Bible about when you pray do it in private and don’t brag about it. We aren’t doing good to get accolades but to make others happy, to help others and for me the happy feeling I get inside.

My decision to make a list and try to do it in 2012 also stemmed from dropping off donuts and coffee to our local ambulance workers for Thanksgiving. They were always kind to my grandparents in their later years when they called the ambulance a lot. They are compassionate people who are there to get our loved ones to the hospital quickly and I thought let’s get them some snacks. Well they were shocked, I got the feeling it didn’t happen all that often. My kids didn’t understand why we just did that. I went on to explain that one day when my grandfather had not eaten for a week from sickness and could not stand up one of the ambulance guys carried him into the ambulance with his own arms, it was one of the most touching things I have ever seen in my life and I just wanted to give back to them in whatever little way I could. You can’t see something like that in your life and not be moved.

I also hate to waste things, so we try to donate anything we can not use or give away anything we don’t use to friends/family who can use it-food, clothes, books, toys, anything-there’s always someone who can use something. And we recycle and I think by raising my kids like this they are used to it. They outgrow something and say here give this to….  We are so quick in this country to throw out and buy more, throw out and buy more, I feel like even if I make a little dent it will help. I had a friend who grew up in Guatemala and every year she collected a container of clothes to send there, like as in a container ship container and she had pictures of the people lining up to get them and people being so happy to receive them it was amazing. There is always someone who can benefit from gently used items.

I want my kids to know we need to care for each other. I grew up poor and yet my parents always managed to find someone poorer than us to help- we gave dinners away at holidays, jackets, clothes, toys for kids and I was pissed. As a little kid I was pissed when they gave my stuff away, but as I grew older I realized how that can help a life. A warm coat so a child can go to school, when I probably had another coat or my grandparents would help my parents out. We send gloves and hats and scarves into school for my son at the holidays, they collect them and give them to those who need them. I went into school one day and heard a phone conversation in the office of what forms you needed to fill out, if you were homeless and needed to enroll your kids in school. I couldn’t imagine. I live in a suburban bedroom community with excellent schools and here was homelessness.

I think when Jesus told us to love one another and to take care of each other, that was so important and really all we need to do. We need to help each other and to respect each other and take care of each other,we are all in this together. That’s how I want to live and how I want my kids to live.  So this is my synopsis of how my year of random kindness played out.  The months are broken down here-

1. money in the meter for people

2. hold the door open for one day for everyone

3. let people get in line before me at store

4. pay for food for people behind me

5. return shopping carts

6. tip well

7. say good morning

8. pray each day for some random person

9.compliment one person each day for a week/smile

10. take ten $1 bills and leave a note that says smile Jesus loves you or smile and leave in random places

11. leave change in a vending machine/laundry mat

12. do not gossip or say anything negative, or little white lies for one week-just be positive and send positive vibes

 

So this year I wanted to take each month to focus on some random acts of kindness. We are going into the 3rd month and the 1st two have been hard. What works as normal kindness or what you would think might not be as easy in this modern world. Something I never thought about. First month was to put money in the meters of strangers. Ok, so for most of the month I was sick so I wasn’t venturing into my small town to do so. Then when I finally caught up they took the meters away! What that’s what I was thinking. Is parking free now? Does the town not need that money. I have no idea, so I didn’t get to do that one. But if they decide to put the meters up again,my kids will love to fill them with spare change.  Month two was to hold the door open for people. Ok, me in my poor thought planning forgot  lots of doors are automatic in our world. So one busy day at work, I played the greeter. I opened the door, welcomed people and asked them if they had questions or needed to be directed and it was cool. I love talking to people, I loved being the frontline and having the ability to help others.  I’ve also had a few other times to hold doors for people and it’s cool. It’s a chance in this busy self concerning world to interact with each  other if only for a split second. Makes the world seem small.I also noticed that my children have been lacking in manners and I used the door opening as a way to talk about manners and teach them door etiquette.  It was neat because it made them feel kind also to be doing it.

March’s plan was to let people get in line in front of me. Before I go into that, let me just air this, why do people with a cart full of groceries go into self check? Really come on? But anyway, a simple act like letting people in front of you in line does two things. It gives you a few more minutes to relax and just think and be quiet and it really makes people happy.People are surprised and really seemed moved. Are we so busy in our current world, that giving someone a space in front of you in line, is so shocking and unexpected? It was a nice feeling to know someone appreciated  my being courteous. I think it might be the region I live in too. People are known to be in a rush and not super friendly as compared to maybe the South, where people are more relaxed and are more polite to each other.When we were down south last summer, it was like night and day, I had not been down south in many years. So next time you see someone at the store with a few items or lots, let them in front of you, it’s a small act of kindness that can go a long way.

April-I wanted to pay for people behind me in line this month, but I just couldn’t. I live in a small town and I felt kind of silly. If I was going somewhere on a turnpike or some place else, I think that would have been really cool. I had asked a girl at work to grab me some lunch one day,and I was short on money, but when she came back she told me I did’t owe her any money. Her debit card did not work and the person behind her, said I’ve been there and paid for our food and instead of taking my money, my friend was paying it forward. That was cool, it was the first time I was involved in something like that. This month I did take my friends daughter to the indoor play place and treated her, because my friend started a new job and money is tight and I also paid for one of the games for my other friends daughter because my son wanted to play with her. The other thing I did was deliver the food collected at my church this month to the food pantry. That is always so uplifting. This month we had tons of food and the lady who collected it at the pantry was so thankful and so happy she hugged me. That was cool, it wasn’t like it was all from us or something, but she knew first hand how the whole trunk of food from my church would help others.

It’s May and I am going to return my cart to the cart park this month. I hesitated today at my first opportunity because it was raining and I was running late, but I did it anyway.And it was nice to do that. Week 2 and it was raining again- this always happens when I food shop. But I returned the cart again. This was by far, one of the easiest nice things to do for someone. Someone could be the person who needs a cart when it’s raining out and you returned yours inside to dry, the person who gathers up all the carts must appreciate not having to go in between cars to retrieve them and also sometimes you can have a friendly interaction, by passing your cart on to someone who is just getting there. I mean there were times when I was pressed for time and was tempted to leave it there, but then I thought this is silly, this is something so simple and I want to be polite and put things back where I got them, to teach my kids to do the same.

June- My plan this month was to be a good tipper. I was a waitress eons ago and I know how hard some servers work and how import tips are to them. We went out a bunch of times and my husband tipped well. We went to this Mexican place we had never been before and left a really nice tip, because the waiter was so friendly and just offered amazing service. Also we go to a place for breakfast where I worked after high school, and the girl I worked with still works there and is super sweet and busts her butt, and somedays it’s so crowded and you have to wait, but we always leave her a nice tip. My mothers husband is kind of a weird person, who is very stuck up. I get embarrassed when he gets a check because he studies it, and will leave a crappy tip because he doesn’t like the service, or even if the wait person is too friendly. It makes me sad and uncomfortable and I just feel bad for the person. I hate when he does that and my mom is actually a waitress which makes it so much worse. It’s like you know the server is thinking what and a** hole. He did it one time at Outback when it was packed, because the waiter was super nice ( I guess not overly snooty) and because the waiter was a bit slow and a little forgetful, but it was packed and he was training. So instead of cutting him a break, he left him maybe 2 dollars and was just an a**. I try not to go out with them, because of this. But my husband and I and are friends are always very good to servers. You never know their situation and it is a hard job.

July- This month my plan was to say good morning. I used to live in Bermuda and if you don’t say good morning, good afternoon, etc. you are considered very rude. I kind of liked it, I thought it was a nice way to spread some niceness amongst each other. Well since I don’t really go anywhere in the morning, I decided to say good morning on Facebook, Twitter and the phone (if I had to call someone). It was nice, it was much easier on Twitter, because on Facebook people expect so much, no one wants to just hear that you are saying good morning, unless you are bragging or sharing pictures people are not interested.     I wish we could be more friendlier like the people of Bermuda but I don’t think that will happen. Especially not in the Northeast where I live and where we are know for our rudeness.

August was cool. I said a prayer each day for one or two random people. The lady in the drive thru, the mailman, my kids, a friend, someone in the news. Whoever I felt a strong need to pray for. It was nice because I am one of those people who hears something and says I’ll pray for you, but I end up forgetting. In this case, as soon as I saw someone my mind was triggered to pray for them. It’s also such an amazing feeling to be praying for someone. I think this is definately one of the random acts I will keep.

September was be nice to strangers. I decided to smile at and compliment people one day each week-I try to do this naturally but this week I actually focused on it. I’m a little shy so it was a little hard smiling at people and sometimes people look at you like you are crazy when you smile at them. People do really light up though when you pay them a compliment and it feels good. It was easier to smile than to compliment but I really wanted to make a point to make people feel good. The only downside was that a few times I was in a bad mood, had a bad day or I was angry, considering it’s not a long month, I’m kind of embarrassed about that. I was squabbling with my husband some of the times and I just couldn’t do it. And if my husband and kids were both driving me crazy then it was almost like a write off day. But then when I couldn’t even bring myself to smile or make someones day it made me feel even worse. Best lesson, just smile and get over being in a bad mood, it’s just not worth it.

October  This month I took several notes and wrote Smile Jesus loves you and placed them around for people to find. This was fun. I liked saying a prayer for the people who would find them. I liked thinking about how surprised and happy people would be to find them. This was a fun month. I am still thinking of the people who got them and how I hope it brightened their day.

November This month I wanted to leave spare change in vending machines, at laundry mats and in newspaper machines. But that was a challenge I didn’t expect. I don’t come across those place very easy. I had to improvise and would drop change where ever, thinking maybe a small child would pick it up and feel lucky to have found it heads up. I left small amounts of change at the local community center thinking maybe a senior citizen would pick it up or someone who really needed it. But it was hard, to find places and that made me feel kind of like I was not too successful this month.

December This month I chose one week to be nice to people, not gossip, not complain, not be negative, be positive and not tell little white lies. This was kind of hard for me, because I kept forgetting what I was doing. My first issue was my instant reaction to email and complain when I didn’t get good service- I was having an issue with having to keep coming back for a prescription, I was upset with Walmart for not having a spice I needed at the holiday time of year and I wanted to email the local superintendent when I passed the high school and saw a girl leaving school in full on pjs ( I’m traditional and I don’t think pjs are appropriate school attire, or any attire out of your home, while I’m at it). But I stopped took a step back and decided not to do it. To be nice and let it go. I was at a meeting and I was sort of complaining about someone, but luckily my son was there and I curbed my opinions. I mostly don’t realize I sound so negative, sometimes I think I am being funny and I’m coming across as really a downer. I tend to tell little white lies to make things easier- oh I can’t help with that, I have something for my child that night, things like that, instead of just coming out and saying I don’t want to do it, I want to spend my free time at home with my family. I don’t want to gossip, gossip is not always malicious, it can be anything you tell others about someone. I don’t want to be negative, or short tempered, or the person who talks about others. I also don’t want my kids to think gossip is ok or that being sarcastic and negative is how you should be. I tend to be meaner to my husband and not hold my standards of how I would treat other people. I don’t want that to be how my kids are. I don’t want to snap and be mean, but I also don’t want to have to concentrate on being nice, I want it to be natural. I don’t want my husband to be able to say things like you’d complain to the wall that it’s the wrong color. I hate when I say something in a negative way, look at the half empty glass or complain and I hate when it comes out like that. While I wouldn’t call this week a success, I would say it made me think more and make me want to be a person who shines and treats people nice, to think of the glass is full side of things.  I want my kids to see my as someone who doesn’t complain and I don’t want to be a grumpy complaining old lady. I don’t want to talk about people good or bad,0r make comments about others. I don’t want to not be aware of how mean I sound or how much I complain. I don’t want to make up untrue statements up to get out of doing something or to not upset someone. I just want to be kind, real and honest.

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