Day 1560 – Day 1572
It seems that every year, as the winter holidays roll around, people start to think about random acts of kindness. I notice that this coincides with a time of year when people are grumpy, drive aggressively, and are rude to sales clerks. It is a time of year when people look forward to spending time with loved ones, but many must spend weeks recovering from the trauma of togetherness.
Random acts of kindness has become a holiday tradition in North America and rightly or wrongly, I have the impression that it was made popular by the same crowd that used to watch Oprah. I have spent many years in Europe so I am always delightfully surprised when someone pays for my cup of coffee at Starbucks at this time of year, and it prompts me to pay that kindness forward.
Recently, I watched YouTube on auto-play and came upon a collaboration on the topic of random acts of kindness. I enjoyed listening to each YouTuber’s ideas of how one can be kind and spread joy in thoughtful and often frugal ways. I notice that a lot of the things I try to do as acts of kindness are things I do normally, as a part of my practice of daily service. They are often part and parcel of one another. Some people find it hard to get their head around the idea of service, but kindness is something we can all understand.
It got me thinking about the link between kindness and a practice of service, and so I challenged my own friends to engage in Random Acts of Kindness and asked for their suggestions. For those who struggle with service (and I am right in there, sometimes struggling to think of ways to contribute, meaningfully, to the world), kindness is always a great place to start.
I’m so grateful for this chance to re-ignite my passion for service with a loving heart full of kindness. I’m grateful for all the suggestions my friends have given me for ways to be frugally kind to others. And, I’m especially grateful that so many friends are participating in the challenge, and are sharing their experiences. If you are inclined, I’d like to challenge you to participate in daily acts of kindness. My hope is that anyone who has struggled with service will find the joy in the practice, by re-envisioning it as kindness.
I know that most of us face financial stresses over the holidays, but there is no price tag on kindness. My friends shared so many ideas for frugal random acts of kindness. I’m guessing that many of these are already a part of your daily toolkit, and even if they are, there is value in reminding oneself when one is aligned with living servicefully, purposefully and gratefully – with kindness. For those who need a booster, here’s a starter list:
- smile at a stranger
- speak to someone who looks alone or stressed (single moms, elders, teenagers) and ask how they’re doing. Listen with your full attention and show empathy.
- offer to help someone
- visit an elder home. Bring some word puzzles or if you play an instrument, bring it and ask if you can play for the elders
- share a bargain with other shoppers. If you see an unadvertised bargain, tell others so they can enjoy the savings.
- write someone a letter and express your gratitude to them for their place in your life
- let someone in line ahead of you
- give your gently used winter clothing to homeless charities. If you can afford to top it off with new mittens, hats, coats, blankets, please do.
- with their permission, mow a neighbour’s lawn or shovel the snow from their driveway or walkway
- babysit for free for a couple of hours
- do grocery shopping for someone who is pressed for time
- tell a joke to make someone smile
- hide a happy note on public transit or in a library book for someone to find
- if you enjoy creating, make some art and leave it for someone to take home, or you can brighten up an elder’s room at a retirement centre with it
- with their permission, hug someone
- tape some money to a vending machine
- bring in some treats to the office and write a note ‘help yourself’
- hold the door for someone
- tell someone who serves you what a great job they did today
- pay someone a sincere compliment
- donate unwanted books to the library or local charity shop
- gather friends and arrange with a hospital, hospice or seniors home for a folk song/old timer singing (or carol singing) evening
- clean up public/shared spaces
- do something unexpected for someone
- pay for a stranger’s coffee (if it is within your means)
- do something kind for yourself
- invite someone, especially someone who might be on their own, to celebrate the holidays with you
This is just a beginning of a list to get you started. If you have other ideas, please leave them in the comments, so that it may inspire others. At a time of year when people can feel lonely or lacking in purpose, it has been my experience that making a daily act of kind service a part of one’s life creates purpose to one’s day. It doesn’t need to simply be for December, it can be a regular part of our lives, and is a natural extension of living gratefully.
For what are you most grateful, today?