You Will Never Regret Being Kind

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Valentine’s Day is for lovers, and it gets all the hype during the month of February. However, the week of February 14 through 20 is known as Random Acts of Kindness Week. For seven days, you’ll have an excuse to do nice things for others — not just your lover, but anyone, even strangers. Modern society has created a mindset that each individual is alone in the world. Every day, you pass people on the street or in the mall, never pausing for a moment to touch, to talk, to even think about them. Practicing random acts of kindness brings back your awareness of others and allows you to touch lives. Not only is it a wonderful surprise for the recipient, but it brings an emotional lift to the giver as well. A plethora of scientific studies suggest that paying a kindness to someone else will make you feel better too, whether the gesture is big or small. Are you at a loss for ideas of random acts of kindness to perform? Here are some things you can do.

1. Use your money to be kind. Leave an extra large tip for the frazzled waitress. Pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive through. You make your money work for you. Now make it work for others as well.

2. Surprise your spouse by ordering lunch and having it delivered to their place of employment. You could do this for anyone that you know well enough to order what they like without asking.

3. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Walk dogs, pet cats, play with them, feed them, and help clean up after them.

4. Leave a note. Carry around a pen and a pad of sticky notes. Leave a note on a public restroom mirror that says “You look great!” Leave one in a self-help library book that says “You are already a wonderful person!” Leave one on the back of a bus seat that says “You are exactly where you need to be.” You get the idea. Random acts of kindness don’t have to cost any money.

5. When you are standing in the checkout line at the supermarket, and you see someone with only one or two items, let them go ahead of you. See that lady behind you in line with a screaming toddler? Let her in front of you and play peek-a-boo with the child until she’s through.

6. Leave a read. Are you finished with your morning paper? Leave it on the bus with a note that says “Help yourself!” Did you love the book you just read? Pass it on to a mom at the playground. Reading is an escape from the real world, and we could all use an escape now and then.

7. Offer to mow the lawn for an injured or disabled neighbor. If they already have lawn service, maybe they could use a little help with some simple household chores.

8. If you are cooking a meal, and you know you will have plenty of food to spare, bring a plate to a friend who doesn’t like to cook or simply doesn’t have time to.

9. Buy a homeless person a meal or even a gift card for the local supermarket.

10. Volunteer at a nursing home. Sadly, many residents don’t get regular visitors and would love to have someone to play cards with, or to read to them.

11. Give away belongings you don’t need or don’t use, such as clothing, kitchen gadgets, tools, furniture, or anything that’s just taking up space or collecting dust. There are people out there who need the items you don’t have a use for.

12. Feed a parking meter that has expired, or is about to.

13. Is someone trying to pass you while you’re driving? Slow down and let him pass instead of speeding up and getting angry. You are both going to get where you are going, regardless of who gets there first. Let him have his way today.

14. Someone doesn’t have change for the snack machine? Give it to them. Every day brings countless opportunities to be kind, if only we take time to notice them.

15. Smile! A random act of kindness need not consist of anything more than a smile and a simple hello. People like to be seen; to be noticed. Smile and say hello to the cashier at the grocery store. Make some small talk. When it’s time to go, wish him a wonderful day. Service professionals deal with grumpy customers all day. One kind person can make all the difference in how they view their job. Find at least five people to smile to today.

One last word of caution: Practicing random acts of kindness is addictive. Once you start being kind to strangers, you may notice you have a hard time going back to the “All about me” mindset that is so popular today. It’s also contagious. The person who finds your gifted newspaper today may have an overwhelming urge to feed someone’s parking meter tomorrow. Practicing random acts of kindness on a regular basis may someday lead to the world becoming a kinder, gentler place to live.

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