Friday, November 29, 2013

Random Acts Of Kindness by Roz Denny Fox




I have to admit up front that I swiped information for this blog from a great flyer my realtor sent out this month. Several times each year she provides ideas to make one’s community better. This time she says her data came from several sources: (Scientific American, Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science, and Psychology Today.)

Kind actions are said to brighten the day of the person who receives the benefit, and also the giver. Doing good will make you feel good, and boosts the health of both giver and receiver. Also, people who volunteer live longer than those who don’t.

I was particularly impressed by a list of ten acts of kindness a person can do for free. I consider most of these “paying it forward”.

1.    Hug your loved ones, and always take the opportunity to tell them you love them.

2.    Hold the door open for the person walking behind you.

3.    Offer your seat to someone on the bus or train who looks more tired than you.

4.    Write a note of praise to the manager of someone who has helped you, such as a waiter, waitress, helpful flight attendant, or customer service rep who solved your problem.

5.    Write something funny, kind or inspiring on a sticky note and leave it somewhere unexpected, such as the inside of a library book, or mirror in a public restroom.

6.    Rake or mow your neighbor’s lawn.

7.    Clear the snow off the car next to yours in the parking lot.

8.    Visit the local senior center or nursing home just to spread good cheer.

9.    Pat the shoulder of someone who looks upset, and offer encouragement.

10. Smile at strangers, and say “hello”.

These seem remarkably easy and many I’m sure most of us do automatically and that’s good. Some other facts on the flyer listed the generosity of volunteers: 65% of households give to charities. 65.1% do favors for their neighbors. 73% have helped a stranger. In general, Americans spend 7.85 billion hours volunteering. (Amazing)

“Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” –Scott Adams.

Another list of ten acts of kindness purportedly all cost $10.00 or less.

1.    Put change in someone else’s parking meter.

2.    Pay for the coffee of someone behind you in the line at the coffee shop.

3.    Buy a few extra groceries and drop them off at the nearest food bank.

4.    Pay the toll of the car behind you.

5.    Give a homeless person a large plastic bag with a bottle of water, a couple of granola bars, a packet of tissues, a toothbrush and toothpaste.

6.    Send a handwritten note and a small memento to a friend or family member you haven’t spoken with in a while.

7.    Offer your change when the person in front of you at the register is short of cash.

8.    Buy an inspirational book for a friend who needs encouragement.

9.    Buy a dozen daisies or sunflowers to give to a co-worker or a stranger on the street.

10. Surprise a friend, co-worker, or loved one with their favorite beverage or snack.

Some of these suggestions may mean we have to step out of our comfort zone, but according to the studies named above, you will benefit from something called: “helpers high”. It’s a release of two powerful mood boosters: dopamine and endogenous opioids.

Since we are in the season of giving I decided to pass on these ideas. Can you think of other helpful things to do that cost little or nothing except for perhaps a bit of time?

 

 

25 comments:

  1. What a great reminder, Roz, that kindness should be passed along!

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    1. I believed it takes a bit of slowing down to think of paying good deeds forward. Most of us rush through life and the little things get away.

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  2. These are wonderful suggestions! I feel like a very small person for not having done them- well a couple- but still, that is a long list and they are very easy to accomplish! Thanks for this great post to help make our readership community a better place!

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    1. Karen, You probably do more than you think. I know anyone who teaches had opportunities a lot of us don't. And sometimes a kindness is an encouraging word.

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  3. I'm bowled over by how many different ways my friends and family help the world, and how each of us -- in looking at what the others do -- say "oh, I could NEVER do that!" (My worst horror is giving blood; another's is reading to the blind; another's is writing a check; and so on.)

    And yet everyone was born with such a variety of talents and interests, it seems like God took that into account when figuring out what needs there would be to meet around the world. Pretty impressive!

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    1. Laurie, You truly are one of the most giving people I know. I'll bet if you stopped to think about random acts of kindness throughout the year, you'd have a long list. For instance the Thanksgiving card you sent me brightened my day.

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  4. I agree with Mel. It's takes slowing down. But, I've realized in the last year that if I were to slow down, I would be a happier person and my family would be happier, too.

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    1. Pam, Sometimes when we burn the candle at both ends while running through life on a treadmill, we don't have time for the little things that puts joy in our heart and the hearts of others.

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  5. Roz, what a wonderful subject! Unexpected acts of kindness can change a person's whole day (or even their life!), and as you pointed out, usually take little or no effort. Thank you for being such an inspiration!

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    1. Shelley, You're another "kind" lady who I think acts of kindness comes naturally to. Hope you have wonderful holidays.

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  6. That's a great list, Roz! Random acts of kindness are my favorite thing to witness and do. They really are a mood booster. I love that commercial that shows acts of kindess going viral so to speak. Like you said, they don't have to cost anything. Letting someone with less items than you (and maybe kids in tow) ahead of you in the grocery checkout line, or taking someone's cart off their hands if they've just unloaded stuff into their car and you're on your way into the store...so they don't have to roll it to the cart area...are a few examples. One time I was checking out of the grocery store and a lady passed me a store coupon for 30% off the entire bill (she had two)! I had a loaded cart so it made my day :).

    Random acts of kindness are the bread and butter of a good life. It shows good character and selflessness and our world needs those things.

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    1. Oh Rula, those are some great ideas. I like the give someone your extra coupons. And taking someone's cart helps keep a parking spot open sometimes, too.

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  7. Wonderful post! My husband leaves me notes in my laptop and they certainly brighten my day:)

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    1. Jennifer, that's so sweet. And what a great boost to your outlook for a day.

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  8. Roz! What an upper! We've received so many kindnesses in the last few years that I couldn't pay them back in a lifetime. So, paying it forward is the way to go. Makes you feel a little like you're holding hands around the world. And,don't forget prayer. It, too, compounds and accelerates as it moves from person to person. What a nice thought to bring to us after a busy holiday, Roz.

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    1. Muriel, I'm glad you brought up things that have been done for you and appreciating them by paying it forward. Really that's what most givers of kindness hope you'll do. And you're right on about the power of collective prayer. At times we forget that except for heading into December. But prayers work all year long. I like an online candle site where you can light a candle for someone who needs a lift. It's free and you spend a few minutes reflecting on the help you want to pass along with the light.

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    2. I didn't know about that site. I'm going looking for it right now. Thanks!

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  9. A lovely post for Black Friday! And so nice to think that the little things really matter. I still remember the woman who paid for part of my groceries about fifteen years ago. The store didn't take credit cards and I didn't realize this until I was paying! I started to put some stuff back since I didn't have the cash for everything when she plunked down enough. I was chagrined but she insisted in a very nice way. One of my favorites is putting change in someone else's parking meter when it's close to running out.

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  10. Laura, What a nice gesture on the part of a stranger. Knowing you, you've paid it forward many times over. I remember doing the change in a parking meter a lot when I lived in Portland, OR or Seattle, WA. Here I so rarely go downtown. Are there parking meters in downtown Tucson? Terrible that I don't know.

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  11. Roz,
    It's lovely to hear these stories of giving, especially when the news and papers are so full of the opposite.
    I have a dear girlfriend who every December picks something positive to do for the following year. Last year she decided to do a random act of kindness. Once a week she has found someone in need—either through an agency or word of mouth--and taken care of them/it. Could be a single mother whose child needed new shoes, to paying for a parcel someone had on layaway, to paying for a prescription that an elderly person couldn't. And, she has done this all anonymously!
    This was really a wonderful post; a nice reminder to slow down, be present and be grateful.
    Happy Thanksgiving,
    Shannon

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    1. A friend of mine inspired me to do the 30 days of thanks-living. Another has encouraged me to do one random act of kindness for every day in December to follow up. I'm up for the challenge!

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  12. Love this Roz! I have challenged my family to do 24 random acts of kindness this Christmas season starting Dec. 1st! The kids have been thinking up ideas all weekend. Can't wait to get started :)

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  13. Wonderful ideas all--thanks for sharing them. I love Amy's idea!

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  14. Shannon, Syndi, Amy and Liz, I'm so glad my realtor sent me the information on random acts of kindness. Reading what everyone here has written makes me think there's much more good going on in this world than we read about--like Shannon said, our news is always full of negative happenings. Amy, I know your kids will come up with some good ideas.

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  15. You always offer great inspirations.

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