Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

Life is mostly froth and bubble; Two things stand like stone: - Kindness in another's trouble, Courage in your own.

Adam Lindsay Gordon

I'm a nice person. Well, I like to think so anyway.
I've always tried to live honestly and behave in a nice way. That's not to say that I am completely without sin. God knows I've made some very poor choices in life - but most of them only affect me.

I have gone through life following this code. Most of the time there are positive results: I get many of the things I want or need through hard work and a good reputation, rather than deceit; people tend to like me OK (once they get past my strangeness and patchy conversation skills); and I have a sense of general well-being (or is it moral superiority??)  

There are also times when this approach has made things difficult. I've missed out on things that more unscrupulous people haven't; I've got myself in trouble once or twice where lying would have let me get away with it; and sometimes I've made things harder than they would have been if I'd taken short cuts or taken advantage of others.

I always thought being nice would see me through; that in the end it would 'all work out' because I'd taken the high road. This belief was shaken considerably when Samuel died. These sorts of things aren't supposed to happen to nice people! For a while I thought I'd chuck the niceness out and start looking after number one, but I didn't think Sam would like that either. I'm still a bit pissed off about it, but I feel good when I'm being nice!

Never get tired of doing little things for others. Sometimes, those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts.


There's one nice thing I love to do, that also benefits me, and that's random acts of kindness. Just little things:giving someone my leftover parking voucher (which usually has lots of time left on it - 'cause I always overestimate the time I'll spend); giving someone the change they need when they're a little short at the checkout line; smiling at someone who looks a little down; giving the postie or the garbage man  an easter egg...
I also like to do it at work: little chocolates of lollies left in people's pigeon hole; a note or card to someone who's a little down; finishing a job that someone started but couldn't finish themselves.

Last year, I even got my kids in on it. We had a 'Random acts of kindness' month, where they did things like help younger kids on the playground, say nice things to people and pay each other compliments. It was lovely to see how excited they got about it. And how good they felt.

Because that's what it all comes down to. It makes me feel good. To know that I've made someone else smile, or feel a little better; that's what it's all about for me. I know I've probably made myself sound like some paragon of kind perfection, but that's truly not why I do it. I love that warm and fuzzy feeling. I'm sure you all know how it feels too. In fact, I've already written about some of the kind things people have done for me. Here and here.

We should all do more of it. What a world it would be!

Need inspiration? Check out the Random Acts of Kindness foundation. I'd love to hear about some of your 'random acts'.


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