You see it on bumper stickers: Practice Random Acts of Kindness. You hear the heartwarming stories on social media. It can also be called Pay It Forward, presumably from the movie of the same name.
My brother and his sweet family performed RAKs over Christmas time. They left a little note with a candy cane on people’s cars or in their mailbox. They also left gifts at people’s houses without saying it was from them. In fact, another friend and I received a cryptic text from a friend saying, “I know it was one of you!” The friend informed her that it was not us but she knew who it was and she wasn’t telling. My brother and his wife want their children to get into the spirit of giving at Christmas and not just receiving.
Our pastor shared a story of a parishioner who paid for the car in line behind them in the drive through line at a local fast food restaurant. She drove off and didn’t think anything of it. The next day, she had to return to that restaurant and the gal in the drive through window recognized the lady as the one who had performed the random act of kindness the day before and was excited to share with her what had happened after that. The car that she had paid for had paid for the car behind them, and that car had paid for the car behind them and that continued for a full 40 minutes! This story brings to mind the song “It only takes a spark to get a fire going…”
Since hearing that story I have been inspired me to pay for the person behind me in a drive through line. Once I paid for a policeman in line behind me at Chik-fil-a, and more recently it was at Starbucks. The one at Starbucks was *really* random. The gal at the check out window had misunderstood my husband’s order. She gave my husband a wrong drink. When she realized what she had done, she gave him the right drink but then in another misunderstanding she charged him for our drink and the car behind us. When she realized her mistake (the second time) she was really mortified. We just let it go and happily paid for the car behind us and were very pleasant to the cashier. She clearly was having a bad day!
One thing that I appreciate a lot is when someone lets me out in traffic. I know it’s a southern thing and it happens a lot down here, but when I travel to other cities where that’s not the norm, it reminds me to be thankful for those little things. Or lets me get in line in front of them at the grocery store when I only have one or two items and they have a cart-full. I’ve done it myself for other people. It really doesn’t take much to put a smile on people’s faces.
It just so happens that next week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, an annual seven-day celebration of kindness. On the surface, it’s a week dedicated to performing simple acts of kindness. But really? It’s an opportunity to make kindness the norm instead of the exception. Take a step out of your routine or your comfort zone to perform a new random act of kindness each day. Why? Well, Scientific studies show that performing acts of kindness actually improve health and life satisfaction. They increase energy, optimism, self-worth and our sense of belonging and connection in the world. PLUS they decrease anxiety, depression and blood pressure. But really, Jesus tells us that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
If you decide to participate in this positive movement, you can post your act of kindness on social media using #RAKWeek2015. If you need ideas, check out the graphic below for 10 simple ideas of things you can do to spread good cheer.
And then check out the Style Me Bloggers to see what kinds of RAK deeds they’ve performed to get more ideas!