Friday, February 8, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness


“The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.”

Maya Angelou (1928)

Kindness. It’s a word we hear far too little of these days. The news is filled with violence and death and often leaves us feeling drained and pessimistic. Is the world truly as bad as the media portrays?

There is an old saying in journalism that “if it bleeds, it leads,” and that certainly seems to hold true with every news outlet I access regularly. But right now, I’m putting forth a challenge to you. February 11-Feburary 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. I plan to do several random acts of kindness throughout that time period…won’t you think about doing the same?

And instead of keeping it a secret, why not write about it here? Leave us some comments on what kinds of random acts of kindness that you plan to do/have done (even if it’s not specific to that week).

I’ll give you an example.

Several months ago, a friend and I went to dinner at Fuji’s. As anyone who’s been to the restaurant knows, the food is delicious, but a tad on the pricey side. You get the option of sitting at a private table, or around a large grill where you’re entertained by the chef doing tricks and cooking your food in front of you. The thing about the grill is, if you are only there with one other person, you’re likely to be sharing your grill with others—which honestly is part of what makes it fun. Even when you don’t know the people.

Well, that evening, a couple and several children—about eight, if memory serves correctly—joined us at the grill. The kids ranged in ages from infant to about fifteen years old. The father apologized in advance for the fact that our dinner was going to be ruined by the chaos their family brought. My friend and I simply smiled, and assured him it wasn’t a problem. After all, part of being out in public is dealing with occasional chaos.

All of the children behaved like perfect angels. They were polite, and they did not yell or fight or talk loudly. As they were leaving, the mother again apologized for the chaos. I told her it was no problem—they hadn’t ruined our evening at all! My friend and I stayed a little longer, catching up and finishing our meal, and then flagging down the waiter for our tickets. To my astonishment, he informed us that the family who’d been sitting with us at the grill had paid for both of our meals!

I don’t know who this family was, but I appreciate and think about their act of kindness regularly. Now I’m not saying that you should buy a stranger’s meal (unless you really want to and can afford it, of course). I’m saying that kindness comes in many forms. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve money at all. A kind word or smile is often all a person needs from you in order to brighten their day.

What act of kindness will you perform today?

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