It's funny how sometimes you notice themes that keep popping up in your life. For me, over the past few weeks I have read about, seen, and experienced random acts of kindness happening, and it got me thinking.
One of these things was a a "random acts of kindness" challenge posted by many friends on Facebook. The post says to leave a comment with "I'm in," and the person who posted the comment will randomly send you a gift or do something nice for you in the upcoming weeks- the only request is that you also post the challenge and pay it forward to others.
Then yesterday, as I was listening to one of my favorite talk radio shows, the woman featured on the program began speaking of a recent study that came out about the correlation between performing random acts of kindness, and boosts in self esteem of the person who performs the acts. At the heart of the study is the confirmation that we gain pleasure and feel better about ourselves when we know that we have helped others.
Now I didn't necessarily need to hear the results of a formal study to confirm this for me. I generally feel a deep calling to spend my life in ways that will positively impact others- but the fact that lately this theme of random acts of kindness keeps coming up for me, got me thinking about random acts of kindness as part of self care.
So I want to share some of my favorite RAOK with you, and see if you would share some of yours.
One of my favorites is leaving a dollar with a sticky note on it in a magazine in a waiting room of a dentist or doctor's office, or somewhere people may be waiting with anxiety or fear. On the sticky note, I write a short little note, something like, "This is meant for you, please take it and have a wonderful day!" The note makes it known to the person that it is there to take, that someone left it on purpose, and they were the lucky one to find it. Its such a small act, but it could really make someone's day.
Another favorite, is to send a text to someone who may come to mind, someone you know is going through a difficult time, or maybe even someone you haven't spoken to in a long time. Send them a text that says, "Thinking about you and sending love," or something simple to that effect. You would be amazed how many times the person will write back, thanking you and exclaiming how much they needed to hear that in that moment.
I tend to go to a lot of events for my job. I find that when it is an event that has a catering staff, seeking out one of the servers at the end of the night to thank them for their wonderful service solicits the most surprised and grateful responses. Caterers are trained to work under the radar, so as not to distract guests from the speakers or performances going on during the meal. The servers are often ignored or treated rudely, and rarely are they thanked by the guests- because honestly the best ones are the ones you hardly notice. So a simple acknowledgement of how hard they worked that night, a simple thank you, and an acknowledgement of their existence and service can go such a long way! I never regret the extra minute it takes at the end of the night to find someone to say this to.
One story that the woman on the radio program shared, had a similar theme. She spoke about how one day at the check out line in the grocery store, she looked up at the cashier and noticed that she was elderly. She said to her, "It must be so hard to have to stand all day." And the woman's eyes actually filled with tears, and she said, "Thank yo so much for saying that. I really need this job to pay my bills, but I am getting older and it is very hard for me to be on my feet for a whole shift. Some days I don't know how I will make it through, but I have never had anyone notice before. Thank you." That moment of connection made both women feel validated and just a little bit better.
Even though the point of these acts is to make others feel better, the truth is, they make the giver feel good. (After all, isn't that why many of us choose to be caregivers in the first place?!) The next time you find yourself having a difficult day, or overwhelmed by your responsibilities as a caregiver, try out one of these simple random acts of kindness- even if you feel like you have nothing left to give- and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the positive impact it has on your mood, your self esteem, and your feeling of connection with the good in the world.
Leave a comment and share some of your favorite random acts of kindness!