I recently asked my five-year-old son if he could think of something kind he could do for strangers, and his response was: “That’s easy – love them!”. It’s not hard to show a stranger some love, and it can come through a simple act of kindness. Love is a chain – don’t be the missing link.
I want to share with you a global revolution that anyone can participate in. Remember the movie Pay it Forward? It was based on the concept of carrying out random acts of kindness, without the expectation of getting anything in return.
Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out.
So my challenge to you, if you choose to accept it, is to start with at least three good deeds and encourage others to do the same. You could even have a healthy competition with workmates or friends to see who can carry out the most acts of kindness in one month.
Here are some suggestions:
- Bring in your neighbour’s bin or mow your neighbour’s lawn.
- Smile, say hello or even give a hug to a stranger.
- Pay someone’s parking meter when it is about to expire.
- Acknowledge someone in service: write a letter to your local police or fire station, or hospital, and thank them for the work they do for their community.
- Return someone’s shopping trolley for them.
- Give up your parking spot to someone.
- Buy a coffee for the next person in line at your cafe, or the meal for the person behind you in a drive-through.
- Register to become an organ donor. In Australia you can do this through the organ donor registry.
- Donate blood – see www.donateblood.com.au to find your nearest donor centre.
- When you receive great service, take the time to acknowledge the person and call or write a letter to the company they work for.
- Give a gift that costs you nothing – you don’t need a reason.
- Write messages or loving words on a stone and leave it on the street for people to see or pick up.
- Downsize your clothing and/or furniture and donate to a local charity.
- Tell a funny joke to someone who looks like they need to hear one.
- Create a ‘swear jar’ for the year: every time you swear, add some money to it and at the end of the year buy a gift for someone in need or leave the money jar at the door of someone in need.
- Make more food than you need and invite a neighbor over for dinner, or give it to someone as a ‘takeaway’ meal.
- Learn CPR – you could save a life.
- For your next birthday, ask friends and family to donate money to a charity of your choice instead of buying you a gift.
- Make a mixed CD of songs that uplift you and give it to others.
- Visit an elderly home or hospice, ask the staff who has no visitors, and spend a little time with them.
- Leave $10 somewhere in public for someone to find.
- Join a Big Brother or Big Sister program and mentor a teen in need. See www.bigbrothersbigsisters.org.au.
- Donate old blankets to a charity or animal shelter.
- Adopt a pet from the RSPCA
- Go to an animal shelter and offer to walk their dogs.
- Help someone you know who is looking for a job – you could update their resume or spread the word for them, act as a reference, find opportunities, or simply help build their confidence.
- Tell someone special that you love them.
- Write a letter to someone who has made an impact on your life and share with them how they have done so. (For example a teacher, a friend, family member, colleague, mentor or coach.)
- Make a cake with love and take it into work to share.
- Share a book that has inspired you, with the instructions that it must be passed on to someone else.
- Take care of a friend’s children so they can have a break one Saturday night.
- If you see rubbish on the ground, pick it up.
- If you have a debt owed to you, call the person and relieve them of the debt.
- If you see a tourist in your city, take a moment to stop, say hello and let them know some great places to visit.
- Help someone whose car has broken down on the side of the road.
- Stand up for someone who needs it.
- Be kind to someone you dislike.
- Give up complaining for 21 days. For inspiration, visit www.acomplaintfreeworld.org.
- Mentor someone in your workplace.
- Buy a lotto ticket or scratchie for a stranger.
- Listen – really listen – to people when they talk.
- Compliment someone who looks like they need a lift.
- Provide a loan to a budding entrepreneur in a developing part of the world. Kiva is a fantastic organisation that channels 100% of your donation towards providing a financial kickstart. Visit www.kiva.org.
Make altruism and giving part of your life, and be purposeful about it. Researcher and author Stephen Post says helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high,” and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking. Listening to a friend, passing on your skills, celebrating others’ successes and the act of forgiveness also contribute to happiness, he says. Researcher Elizabeth Dunn, author of Happy Money, also found that those who spend money on others reported much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves.
This year, international Pay it Forward Day is on April 25. It is a time for us to be reminded of the power of giving: even though the act of giving may be very simple, the important thing to remember is the attitude behind your action. Do it with love and you will find that in the giving, you will receive. A person with a giving attitude has a more positive outlook on life. Often, negative feelings surface when we are so focused on ourselves, but you will find the minute you shift your focus onto doing good for someone else, your worries will soon dissolve – even if only for a short period of time. This is a gift in itself.
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love” – Lao Tzu
Peace, love and happiness to you all.