Several months ago my parents and I had breakfast at a neighborhood restaurant in Cleveland. After finishing our meal I asked the server for the check. “It’s already been taken care of,” she said.
“What?” I asked, thinking I had misunderstood her. She explained that another patron paid our bill and left. “He does stuff like that all the time,” she said. My parents and I received a random act of kindness. And it made our day.
Watching the local news can make you wonder if there are any decent humans out there. Well, there are. Many will no doubt show themselves on World Kindness Day, Nov. 13, which is all about encouraging people to do nice things for others. But there are more do-gooders out there every day than you could imagine.
I know. One of my responsibilities as an editor at AARP is to review the letters and emails that come in for our Random Acts of Kindness column, which appears monthly in the AARP Bulletin. I’m often amazed by the incredible kindnesses and generosity that people bestow on others, many of them complete strangers.
Sometimes I get a little emotional reading stories like the one about a parent who’s just making ends meet for her family but still shares food with a hungry soul. Or a man who helped two young Jewish women escape the horrors of the Holocaust by providing the documentation they needed to reach a safe place. Tales like these are riveting and uplifting.
My church has recently tapped into the kindness movement, too, calling it Hidden Halos. Our pastor has encouraged us to strive for two months to do a good deed daily for a stranger because, as scripture says, you never know when you may be showing hospitality to angels.
It’s inspired me to slow down and offer help to confused tourists on the streets of Washington or hand some cash and say thank you to a surprised airport restroom attendant. The belief is that small acts of kindness can change the world.
It can certainly make a difference to a caregiver. AARP has kicked off Random Acts of Kindness for Caregivers to recognize and reward family caregivers in small but meaningful ways, especially during National Family Caregivers Month in November. Simple acts such as washing a car, picking up dry cleaning, preparing a meal or doing the grocery shopping can go a long way to brightening a caregiver’s day.
So when was the last time you sprinkled a little kindness into the universe? It doesn’t require a lot of effort or even money. Small acts can bring big smiles, like sharing a fast-food meal with a homeless young man (that’s what an acquaintance recently did). For me, doing such acts brings joy and a sense of purpose. You can experience that, too — and you don’t have to wait for World Kindness Day to roll around.
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