By Lyndsey Hafer-Williams
Oct 13, 2018,
We live in a cruel, harsh, and oftentimes, unyieldingly unkind world. We are bombarded on a daily basis with stories of insensitivity and injustice. The inability of others to communicate with civility and basic manners has become commonplace and consistent. As a society, it would appear on the surface, that we are doomed to live in a climate of hatred, hopelessness, and hostility. We are always threatened by the dark, menacing clouds of suspicion, separation, sensationalism, and senseless violence. It’s enough to depress the hell out of you!
But, keep reading my friend, as I have a story to tell you about acts of kindness – and every single word is true…
Early one morning not too long ago, I went to a local grocery store, the kind where you need a quarter to get a shopping cart and (of course) I couldn’t find a quarter anywhere! I had several dollar bills but no quarter. As I was standing there searching every corner of my purse, a kind gentleman said, “Here, take my cart. Don’t worry about it.” I tried valiantly to persuade him to take one of my dollar bills, but he refused, smiled, and just wished me a good day. His ordinary little act of kindness was so sweet and it made me smile.
After the grocery store I swung through the drive-thru of a local coffee shop. I ordered my usual and when I got up to the window to pay I was told that the car in front of me had paid for my coffee as well as a pastry of my choice! I declined the pastry (Shit, that was hard!) but gladly accepted my free coffee. This ordinary little act of kindness was so unexpected and it allowed me to pay for the person’s order in the car behind me.
I was on my way to my next stop, and at a red light, there was a young woman standing there with a cardboard sign that simply read: Hungry. I watched as the man in the pickup truck in front of me, leaned out his window, and handed her a little plastic bag of what looked like convenience store goodies. I can only assume that it was his lunch, and I was inordinately touched and immediately teared up. His ordinary little act of kindness was so genuine it made me feel happy.
Across the street from that red light, I stopped at one of our local animal shelters to donate some things I had been collecting for them. As I walked up to the shelter, the box fell out of my arms and everything in the box spilled out. THE GIRL WITH THE CARDBOARD SIGN SUDDENLY APPEARED AT MY SIDE AND HELPED ME PICK IT ALL UP! And, what’s more? She refused to take the few dollar bills I still had in my pocket. Her little act of kindness was so precious that it overwhelmed me with utter joy.
Finally, I got home and as I was pulling into my driveway, I was met by a neighbor who was bringing me a huge container of her homemade salsa. She knows that I love her custom recipe full of sweet onion, spicy cilantro, tart lime, and juicy garden tomatoes. My heart was just so full from everyone’s small kindnesses throughout my day that I was grinning from ear to ear with gratitude for life and my fellow humans.
And then I flipped on the radio and heard there was an active shooter in Cincinnati, Ohio. Someone had been shot and buildings were being evacuated. A press conference was being held. Local law enforcement was on the job. Unfortunately, we all know the drill. Here we go again… I was completely defeated. My bubble burst and the wind swooshed out of my sails.
But as I stood there listening to the details of yet another senseless act of violence, feeling low, it occurred to me that I should not let the angry actions of a few steal the love I had felt from many. Yes, the world’s problems are very real and they should not be ignored or glossed over. But, it dawned on me that we humans are so much more than the news and social media would have us believe.
I had been witness to it all day!
I made the choice, right then and there, that every day I would try to effect change in my immediate world through little acts of kindness. I could offer small things to bring a smile to someone, anyone, known and unknown. Because, my friend, you know what? These seemingly ordinary acts of gentle kindness, to ourselves, our loved ones, and our unknown neighbors all add up to extraordinary deeds of magic! And that can change the world.
Did someone surprise you recently with a small act of kindness? Tell us about it in the comments and let’s keep this conversation going.
- 1 cup blackberries (130g)
- 1 cup quartered grapes (160g)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons ground chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (more or less, depending on how sweet you like your jam)
- Place the blackberries, grapes, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over medium – low heat for 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Turn off the heat and add the ground chia seeds and the maple syrup and stir.
- Mash the fruit with a potato masher and transfer the jam to a glass container and allow to cool before storing in the fridge. This jam won’t get super thick like store bought jam, but it will thicken up a bit as it cools.
- This jam will stay good for about a week in the fridge.
- You can use any combo of fruit you like.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with small acts of kindness.
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Thank you. Love you
You are most welcome. Love you right back, Daun!
I just read this post out loud to my entire family on our way to temple…. filled with gratitude for these words this morning.
Well, THAT just made me tear up with happiness! Thank you…
Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing. ❤️
Thank you, Michelle!
It’s true. Se need to focus on the little daily act is of kindness. We can’t make the world do a 180 but by little acts of kindness we can change it 0.1 degrees at a time. And many of those, over time, will make a HUGE difference. What we do matters!
A few yrs ago my husband was inspired to instruct his employees to smile at everyone they met. He had a strong feeling it was going to change the day for someone radically. As in prevent someone from suicide. All complied. Obviously we don’t know if all those smiles made a suicide prevention difference. But I know for sure that they made the day better for a whole lot of people. I decided then that I was going to smile at everyone. Always. You never know what a person might need. Sometimes a smile makes a big difference.
I’ve took to smiling and making nice and polite comments to people, especially people I would assume get ignored or am subject to a lot of ignorance. Like the cleaning lady at work. Or the cashier at the local supermarket.
I don’t know if I make a difference. But most often people smile back. And sometimes their face light right up. It’s like a non physical hug.
Sophie, this is a great reminder that a smile costs nothing, but could possibly change another person’s day. When I go to a fast-food take-out type of place, and eat in (happened way more frequently before I went WFPB) after I’ve finished eating I try to catch the attention of the person who has prepared my food (or whoever is behind the counter at the time) and thank them for making my lunch, and tell them how much I enjoyed it. You can tell by their reply, and look on their face, that this is not something they experience often. Recognition of a job well done is always uplifting. And the compliment cost me nothing but a few seconds on my way out the door. And Lyndsey, your messages are always so uplifting. Thank you.
Ruth, you are most welcome!
There are so many little things that I taught my kids that may seem small and insignificant to one person but means more than we can imagine to another. Of course we hold the door open for others but what people forget to do is say thank you. I’ve been lost in thought and have forgotten a couple of times. My kids call me out right there and then. I rush to apologize for my mistake and the person usually laughs and says “you’re welcome, you did good mom.” When we leave ANY store we ALWAYS so thank you as we leave. It’s funny the reactions we get from people who work there because if all three of us are together, it’s usually said in stereo. Another seemingly insignificant easy thing we do is say thank you when someone let’s us into a lane in heavy traffic. I have always rolled down my window and waved to the person who did it because I want to be sure they know I appreciated them. The first time I saw my daughter do that while she was learning to drive, I actually teared up. Little things like that may seem insignificant but to those receiving it, it means something. Just think back to the last time you held the door open for someone and they just walked by and didn’t even acknowledge you were there, then the person right behind them looks up, locks eyes with you and says thanks. That interaction and connection can make all the difference in the world to a person’s day. And it’s so simple!
Sofie! What a brilliant idea! I’m going to start sharing smiles ASAP. Thank you thank you thank you!
Hubby and I love to pay it forward. We had never really thought of it until it happened to us years ago. We were having a dinner at Chili’s and instead of the bill, our server gave us a letter. The message was simple but profound. I said this….”You have been rewarded with the gift of paying it forward. Although you can clearly afford to pay for your own meal, we hope that by treating you to dinner that you will continue our mission and do the same for someone else you meet”. That is our challenge to you.
Hubby and I now frequently do the same. We will go into a restaurant and look around and decide on our next recipient. We have found servers LOVE to be involved. Sometimes they will even make suggestions. During the holidays we will include gift cards to Target or Wal Mart along with their free diner. Once we decided that instead of giving away a free dinner, we left our server a crazy huge tip. She followed us out of the restaurant crying to thank us. After hearing her story we knew that we were meant to be there, meant to provide encouragement to her through our gift. You may think that you’re helping others, but as the giver, you are truly the one receiving the blessing. You just have to be willing to listen to that voice inside of you urging you to step outside of your comfort zone. It’s sad that for most people, that comfort zone doesn’t include kindness to others but when it does, it’s a very powerful thing.
Thank you for the reminder, Lyndsey. I’m off to print off some letters for our next secret mission!
Ok Julia, now I’m bawling! How sweet – I love all those ideas!
I just read Lyndsey’s letter—just what the doctor ordered for me. My dog broke my shoulder two days before my 67’s birthday and I have been feeling very depressed since then. Not something I am personally thinking doing just my body reaction to this event. Add all the crazy stuff happening and it sucks!!!!! I like to do kind things also but have been in a funk so hard. This letter lifted my spirit and felt so good!!! Thank you for writing it and sharing it. Many blessings to you for a healthy recovery?????
Oh Loretta! Anything that happens to our fur babies is always upsetting. I hope that everything turns out ok and I’m so glad that my words were able to lift you up. Big hugs to you!
Thankfully compassion and care for each other is evident in many small towns where I live in NZ. We all look out for each other, maybe because we’re relatively isolated. The challenge is to keep up this behavior of kindness when in bigger towns and cities. When in the rat-race, the greetings cease. People stop holding the door open. The speed and demands of the day seem to suck away those moments of inter-personal connection. But it DOESN’T need to be that way. If we can infiltrate kindness into city life we’ll be WINNING. Do you remember in the movie Crocodile Dundee when Mick first gets to NY and greets people like he’s a neighbor? He’s my idol. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEDo5oQ-O8Y Hope this message finds you fabulous and well. Thanks for your words Lyndsey.
Sue, what you said about infiltrating kindness just gave me goosebumps! Just think what we could do if we all spread kindness around like crazy! Xoxo
Well my story is a little different. My nephew and his family live in Phoenix and got to church pretty much whenever they can. Well they were up visiting the family for Christmas and said, you know what we do for the holidays? I said no what. Well him and his wife put together kits of socks, snacks and toiletries and when they see a homeless man, woman, family or veterans they give them the kit full of goodies. I think I’m going to put together little kits this year to hand out.
Yes! I’ve heard them called “blessing bags” and I’ve wanted to do that, as well. You’ve inspired me to get started on it. Thank you!
Our town started ‘Blessing Boxes’. We have canned and boxed food in it for those in need. I love during the summer when we have fresh produce from the farmers on the bottom shelf. For the anniversary of my car accident leaving me a paraplegic I always like to do something to celebrate being alive. We made up the ‘blessing bags’ to add to the homeless shelf. My grandson really enjoyed helping me pick out the items and pack the bags.
When my child was in high school one of his classmates was killed. He was one of those kids everyone liked and he liked everyone right back. The phrase he used and his friends have coined, to this day, “if you’re living, you should be smiling.”
So my lovely dirtiest, pass it on. 🙂
Susan, that just touched me deeply. I’m going to write that phrase down and post it on my bathroom mirror! Love it. Thank you for sharing…
Hahahahahaha! Yay, back to you, Brenda – lets go spread some kindness, shall we?!? Xoxo
Talked about this very sort of thing with my Sunday School class this morning and how even a tiny act of kindness can totally turn around someone’s day. Thanks for sharing and affirming that there is good in the world!
Barbara, I just keep reminding myself that I can’t do everything but I can be kind! Big hugs to you…
I’ve been collecting some supplies for hurricane Michael survivors. My daughter evacuated with their 5 kids. They brought 2 changes of clothes. Their house was severely damaged, they have lost almost everything. I went to the store to buy them some clothes. I was approached by a couple about what I was doing. So I explained the situation. They paid for my car full of children’s things. I was going to have to put it on my charge card so I can feed them for the week. Blessing #2, someone offered them a place to live temporarily until their house is repaired. They both still have jobs, he is a police officer and she is a restaurant manager. It’s a hard situation but, they will rebuild NW Florida.
Kathleen, what a scary and worrisome situation! And how wonderful that it was made a bit easier by the kindness of others. Big hugs to you and your family as they rebuild. Xoxo
This is great stuff. I’ve seen/ experienced some of this sort of thing, but not ever in a single day! Wow.
I work for a non-profit, and feel the caring every time I check in a donation someone has sent us. I have a short commute, and try to give myself a few extra minutes more than I expect to need to travel, so I can let people into traffic in front of me at some areas where you can sit a long time otherwise. It’s win-win in my book, because it makes ME feel good to treat another driver as I’d like to be treated.
Heidi, it was an unusual day that’s for sure. And they weren’t big things, but all were so kind that they made me feel better about humanity. You’re right, every time we do something kind and generous for someone else, it opens our heart a bit as well. Xoxo
This is my favourite jam recipe! My favourites are 2 cups strawberries or 1 cup each of strawberries and raspberries. So yummy! Thanks!