Take Care Tuesday – The Wonders of Random Kindness

never-underestimate-the-power-of-a-single-act-of-kindness

Rants and pet peeves are all well and good, fun posts and easy to get fired up about … the reality is that most people are just trying to go about their lives and wish no harm to others, and some people are downright nice. So today I wanted to highlight some wonderful things I have seen recently.

1. Subway Savior

When we went to New York, we were headed into the Subway the first day and wanted to buy a Metro Card, and trying to get the best option for both the Path and the Metro. Next to us was a woman in a suit in her 30s, and she overheard us and did two things:
– Gave us a couple of empty cards to refill (saving us $1 per card)
– Helped us make some smart choices about filling up the card.

It was a totally selfless and unnecessary act that cost her time and helped us out. I have no idea where she was headed, what her name was or anything else … but Thank You!

2. Runner Recognition

When I went to a recognition event a few weeks ago, the project manager – who I have emailed but not seen since 2010 – was chatting with me and asking me about running and my fitness and so on. He just came out and said I looked incredible and that I must be a distance runner because that is what I look like. The last time I saw him I probably weighed about 50-60lbs more than I do now …

And once again, here we were at a company event, and there was no need for him to have said anything – but he did and it meant the world.

3. Un-Necessary Kindness

I have talked a lot about the need to ‘shut up … and listen’ – that too often people will speak unnecessary words when what the other person needs is someone to listen. Guess what – sometimes the opposite is true! Sometimes people will open their mouths unbid, and magic will spew forth. For whatever reason I have heard a bunch lately, here are just a few:

– I have a coworker who has been losing weight, had lost a bunch, put most of it back on and then has lost all of that and more. As someone who knows that struggle I am quick to mention if I see new clothes, and so on. But last week a bunch of people were together talking and one mentioned offhand that she looked like she’d lost weight, which she acknowledged quickly before things moved onto another subject. It all passed in a couple of seconds, but from personal experience I know these little things can make your day.

– The dangers of ‘reply all’ sometimes are a benefit! Returning from my anniversary weekend there was a ton of stuff to deal with, but amongst the myriad emails was some information in the form of a discussion I was copied on. Everything was dry and technical, and I had already replied and asked for more information so I could help out when I decided to read through the whole email chain to get further context. Earlier in that discussion my name came up and a bunch of nice things were exchanged about work I had done and help and time I had given to people. It was all small stuff, but the moment of satisfaction – like overhearing someone praise you without knowing you were there – really made the compliments mean that much more.

– In the store last week the person in front of me bought stuff that totaled $19.97 and the cashier noted that was the year she was born. I remarked that was in between my boys, born in ’96 and ’98. We started chatting and it ended up she knew my boys and had wonderful things to say about them – which was really cool since she wasn’t someone I knew.

– I have had a number of instances over the last couple of week where I have seen people I’d not seen in a couple of years, and they have said stuff about my appearance, or have seen me out running, or heard things, or whatever. Again, it is so much easier NOT to say anything, so the fact that they chose to make those remarks brightened my day.

4. Taking Care of Business

At the store the other day I saw a couple who were buying a jug of milk, but neither had their wallet – they thought they were going to have to go home and then come back. But the person behind them in line say ‘don’t worry, I got it’ and paid for it. Sure it was just $3, but in a world where everyone seems so disconnected and miss so much due to being on their phone, that presence of mind to hear what was happening AND step in with an act of kindness … it was touching.

Then the next day at the grocery store I got in line in the ‘express line’ behind someone who clearly had WAY more than the ‘suggested limit’ of items, and who was very easy to judge in many other ways (and honestly, I will say that someone with more than 30 items in a 7 item line opens himself up pretty much to judgement!). But as it got to be his turn in line, he turned to the person behind him and let her go ahead. A new cashier opened and plucked me out of line, but it was one of those totally unexpected moments.

5. Thanks for the ‘guest posts’

About a month or so ago Suz left a huge and awesome comment, and mentioned that it was basically ‘a guest post’ … and she was right! My initial thought was to quote some here … but I realized that to include some but not others wouldn’t be fair, nor could I choose any specific post since it feels like I get amazing comments on even the most mundane of posts.

Instead I just want to thank everyone – I really love and appreciate all of the kind and generous time and energy you put into your comments. It makes every single post better – you enhance things I wanted to say, offer different viewpoints agreeing with my statements, or even disagree in a very respectful manner. It is a humbling thing to read your comments every day.

Bonus. Combining Happiness … and Robin Williams

I haven’t talked much about Robin Williams dying, but it isn’t because there wasn’t an impact. It was more because there was SO much noise last week about it … there is the usual general uproar that centers around any celebrity death, amplified due to William’s career and how much he meant to so many people. But it also got a lot of attention due to highlighting the impacts of depression – and how much progress we’ve made towards recognizing it as a disease and not a shameful thing or just a ‘bad mood’.

I really don’t have much to add to the discussion at this point, so instead I am sharing a video from 1988 of a song by one of my favorite singers, Bobby McFerrin. McFerrin makes ‘one hit wonders’ lists due to the song, but fans knew him before and after as an incredibly talented jazz vocalist, composer and conductor. The song – Don’t Worry Be Happy – is appropriate to the post, but it also contains Robin Williams, making it even more fun! Enjoy!

So What Acts of Kindness Have YOU Seen Lately?

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22 thoughts on “Take Care Tuesday – The Wonders of Random Kindness

  1. One of my favorite things about traveling is finding people like your subway savior. They’re everywhere, all over the world. These people who will help with language, logistics, whatever. It leaves me in awe frequently. Especially when I’m seeking help in my language and it’s not the same as theirs. So much effort and trouble and kindness on their part, all for my benefit.
    The recent kindness that comes to mind for me is odd. A woman next to me at yoga smiled at me. We were laying on the floor, and at one point, you reach your arms out to the side, so if there’s someone within 2 arms’ distance, you have to stagger a little. And when we were staggering, she made eye contact and smiled. I swear, I almost cried, it just felt kind. Hard to describe, but usually everyone (myself included) is kind of expressionless. The smile was so simple but really warmed my heart and the only word that came to mind was “kind.”

    • I smiled reading this … there is something about a warm, genuine smile … makes you feel safe and loved and warm.

      I definitely try to help struggling travelers – I did it in Boston (we might have been tourists, but after so many years I am pretty adept at getting places) and helped some people who were confused because Gov’t Center was closed … it is always a good feeling.

  2. Definitely a nice change to focus on kindness! I like the story of the person with 30 items giving up their spot at the last minute – better late than never! I think it’s a good example of being able to admit a mistake even when you’re well into it! Never too late to turn things around ๐Ÿ™‚

    • … and I didn’t mention that it looked like the guy was buzzed on either weed or booze as he stood in line, so definitely a nice – and unexpected – gesture!

      And definitely agree on the focus shift to kindness – I actually planned it for last week but never got there.

  3. Oh, my guest posts. I have a tendency towards verbosity, don’t I?? I’ll try to keep this one short, but nevertheless sweet. An act of kindness that literally saved our honeymoon occurred on a train in Paris. We were on the (theoretically correct) train to go to Charles de Gaul Airport, and sitting with our luggage, waiting at a station. Out of nowhere, a man leans over, asks if we are going to the airport, and tells us that there is actually a switch of train due to a worker strike! We grabbed our stuff and jumped off just before the doors closed. Had that man not said something, we would have gone in the opposite direction, missed our flight, and lost a day that ended up taking us to Alex’s favorite sight of the entire trip, the top of St. Peter’s.
    Sometimes, unsolicited advice is a bear. But sometimes, it can save someone’s honeymoon.

    • Great story – and so agree “Sometimes, unsolicited advice is a bear. But sometimes, it can save someoneโ€™s _____”

      And the guest posts? Not just you! And that is the best thing … SO MANY great ones! #blessed ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. This was great to read as the start to my day. I am usually a pretty upbeat person but have had some rather down days lately. Reading all of these wonderful things put a smile on my face. Sometimes we just need to take a moment and focus on the positive and see all of the really great things that go on around us. By the way I love that song. When my brother was little he used to love it and he would sing it so loudly in the car. One time we were on a road trip and had a radio to chat with my aunt and uncle in another car. He got on it and was singing that song so loudly….and terribly. He had to have been maybe 4 years old? That moment obviously stuck with me for 30 some years.

  5. I love that song and used to love that video when I was younger…I totally forgot RW was in it. Very cool share. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love this post today. It’s nice to be reminded of the good things that still go on in the world, especially right now when I’m in a really uncomfortable situation (for the next two weeks anyway!) Recently when I’ve been struggling with things (job, foot, etc.) I logged into my email and there was a message from Starbucks in there. Our friend Sara bought me a coffee. It made me cry. It was just the most kind thing at the perfect time. (If you read this comment, Sara, I’m thankful to you forever for that coffee!)

    • Oh wow – that is an awesome story – yay, Sara!

      That song is interesting – I had been a Bobby McFerrin fan for several years then (OMG jazz hipster), and that song was massively overplayed, and really it was his weakest album yet artistically … but it is SO infectious, and of course everything is HIM – no autocorrect, no instruments, just him over-dubbing himself (and showing his massive vocal range) … and the fun with the video ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Well bk just carried the laundry bag down the stairs for me (very small load today), which made my day since we had a huge argument not too long ago about cleaning up our messes haha. He never ceases to surprise me and has become quite a good little helper and kiddo in general in the past few weeks which has been a pleasure to see. And in the real world, things like letting other people turn left first when a light changes or being allowed to do so, being told have a nice day with a genuine smile at the store, and just saying hi to other people on my runs and having them smile or say it back makes me happy. Little things go a long way to making someone’s day, and it’s not hard to do. Something to keep in mind!

    • “Little things go a long way to making someoneโ€™s day, and itโ€™s not hard to do. ”

      That is SO true … last year my wife was having a really crappy week and super-lousy day, and I bought her a little plant and brought it into work and gave it to her … she burst into tears. It was all of $2.99 and a few minutes …

  7. Lovely post. It’s good to focus on kindness it makes us feel better. I was late picking up my son today, I got stuck in traffic ( roadworks) and phoned ahead and it was so nice that instead of being greeted with ‘attitude’ they thanked me for phoning ahead.
    Last week a had a really good day where lots of people were kind to me, praising my work and even my new haircut! It reminds us to be kind to others it really is worth it even if sometimes it feels like we try so hard and nobody notices!

    • That is so great – it is like the ‘have a nice day’ expression … so often it just falls out of people’s faces … so to have someone actually mean it makes me pause ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad last week had many good moments for you!

  8. Great post! Did you see the thing that came out today about Robin Williams’ rider? Apparently each movie he worked, his rider required the studio to hire homeless people to put them to work on the movie. So amazing.

  9. My mom turned $50 a few weeks ago. I told one of my clients who owns a restaurant about the gift I had gotten my mom. She said she would give me a gift certificate and to remind her when the date was near. When I reminded her she asked how much did she promise. I said $100 she replied no we can do better and gave me a $200 gift certificate. And just right now I went to collect some coffee from a local farmer. He didn’t have any but offered to roast what I bought from another farmer. When I asked how much I owed him he said nothing. Life is great when people are kind.

  10. Great post… it’s nice to be reminded that good deeds still happen even when it seems like lack of consideration is everywhere! I needed to read this this morning… thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

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