I’ve found that doing something kind for someone else has become my antidote for a crappy day. When the stress of work, the unexpected bumps of my day, and the worries of things not yet done weigh on me, I take the focus off me and look for something that I can do to brighten someone else’s day. Sometimes it’s direct. Sometimes it’s done anonymously. Sometimes I’m not even around to see the effect and am left to imagine the wonderful ways it has made that person smile.
As I began to do little acts…taking my used cup to the counter at my favorite cafe…picking up a bit of trash someone left behind…I started to become more aware of the people around me. I thought about how I treated them. I paid attention to how they felt after talking with me. I started looking for reasons to do nice things. While the thought of random acts is enchanting, the thought of being mindfully kind has a power all its own.
I like the idea that wherever I go, whatever I do, whomever I meet, I’ve done something to leave that small space a little bit better. In fact, I feel like something is left unfinished until I find some way to leave behind some kindness. Karma or no, I feel that at the very least my perception has changed for the better. I feel more open and approachable. I smile more. Things don’t bother me as much as they used to. Judging by the way people have been receiving me, they must be noticing it too.
I’m in the habit of buying a suspended kid’s cone at my local ice cream shoppe. What’s a suspended kid’s cone? I pay for an extra kid’s cone and ask the staff to pass it on to the next kid who comes in. Granted, it’s more of a gift to their parents but the ear-to-ear smile of the child who becomes part of my conspiracy of kindness is a blast to see. More often than not, the parent will pay it forward for the next kid. What’s been especially gratifying is hearing the staff tell me, “I’m going to start doing that.” Ripples. That my simple, mindful acts of kindness might be inspiring someone else to be kinder is reason enough to keep me going.
If you’re looking for some fun, simple ideas for mindful acts of kindness check these out at onelifecan.com. I know, some of these can take a bit of effort so start simply. A kind, well-placed word can have an amazing effect on a person. Say thank you to your boss. Compliment a co-worker. Scribble a quick smiley face on your waitress’ receipt. Tell a kid they’re awesome. It won’t be long before you start looking for other kind things to do.
And if you ever see me at a cafe, please let me buy you a cup of coffee. I’ve got a thousand to go.