About a year ago, I came across a book at the Tacoma Public Library book sale called “Random Acts of Kindness.” At first I didn’t think much about it. It was one of those titles that seems interesting enough to spend $1.50 on, but then you just never get around to actually opening it. Ignored and neglected, it sat in a random pile of other discount books I had been collecting for months. Then, one day, when I was feeling particularly bored and a little depressed I decided to give “Random Acts of Kindness” a try. What happened next changed my life forever.
Page after page was filled with the most inspiring stories I have ever read. They weren’t tales of heroics or massively unobtainable gestures. They were real stories about the small and unexpected things that can happen anywhere at any time. People looking at the world just enough to see something other than themselves. Quick passing moments that will surely last a life time. Some of the stories made me laugh, some made me cry, but the ones that stuck with me were the ones that made me think. I sat and thought about why kindness was so important, and what separated kindness from obligations.
I’m not saying that obligations and responsibilities are bad. Obligations and responsibilities usually come from a place of kindness and love. Picking up the kids from school, being at a friends soccer game when you promised that you would go, or taking out the trash are all nice things that we do for people we care about. Unfortunately, we wrap ourselves up so tightly in obligation that we forget to look out at the rest of the world. Sometimes, our obligations become stifling to the point that we’re not even nice to the people that we love anymore. So, what happens when we talk to the banker, pass a stranger walking down the street, or stand in a lonely elevator with one other person?
I wanted to put the messages in this book to the test. I wanted to see how I could make other people feel, just by noticing the world and responding to it with more kindness. I wanted to see more people smile in this world and I wanted to know that their smiles were because of me, even if they didn’t know it. So, I went out into the world and put my best foot forward. I tried to notice more of what was happening around me. I tried to understand how other people were feeling. Mostly, I tried to make everyone’s day a little bit brighter.
I won’t go into detail about how being kind made me feel. I don’t think I would be able to do my feelings any justice. It’s one of those things you have to do for yourself to truly understand. Like skydiving, it’s a personal experience that feels different to everyone. What I would like to do is propose that you try it. You can do as little or as much as you like. You can try it with close friends, family members, co-workers, or strangers. Just give it a try and see how much brighter your world can be.
Join us every Monday, for our 8:00 am post- Monday’s Moment of Kindness, where you can get new ideas for making each and every day a happier one.
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson